What was supposed to be the 65th year of the Cooper County Youth Fair will now have to wait another year after the board announced its cancellation May 8.

The decision to cancel this year’s fair was not easy fair board President Katie Siegel said. The board concluded to follow guidance from the Cooper County Commission, Cooper County Emergency Management Agency, Cooper County Public Health Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The fair has a typical attendance of at least 5,000 people who come to enjoy the festivities and events,” Siegel said. “It would be impossible to maintain safe social distancing at the larger mass gatherings such as a carnival, concert or tractor pull.”

The fair board is discussing alternative opportunities for youth to safely showcase projects and livestock from this years. The board is seeking input from club leaders and parents.

“We are hoping to provide a safe platform for them to showcase their projects/livestock, but on a smaller scale with limited spectators,” Siegel said. “We are exploring many different options.

The board will work with local health authorities, project leaders and superintendents on how to limit the number of people at the event, along with hygiene procedures and how to maintain social distancing.

4-H clubs were not allowed to gather until May 18 and even then they are limited to groups of 10 or fewer, Siegel said.

There are around 223 4-H members ages 5-18 currently part of the Cooper County 4-H, Youth Program Associate Daneal Gerke said.

“The Cooper County 4-H Council is currently having discussions on how to have this event with social distancing,” Gerke said. “Social distancing for fair-sponsored events will be determined by the fair board, as well as whether we have a livestock and auction.”

Some sponsors still are willing to contribute, despite the cancellation of the fair, Siegel said. The board currently is not seeking donations. Contract fees and a low attendance with limited sponsorship could have had a negative impact on the fair financially.

“We have contacted the carnival, sanctioning bodies and promoters of the cancelation,” Siegel said. “The extension council (4-H) and FFA were also notified. We also made a public press release to inform the public and have it posted on our social media and web sites.”

The board has had both positive and negative feedback from the public regarding the cancellation. It is overall positive, Siegel said.

“The community has been understanding of the position the Cooper County Fair Board was put into,” she said. “Not one of the fair board members wanted to cancel the fair. We spend countless hours planning for the fair ever year. It was concluded that the cancellation was the most ethical and safest way to ensure the safety of the youth and spectators.”

As for other events planned at the fairground this year, Siegel said the board is currently discussing event opportunities with other organizations as well as how they can work to maintain social distancing.

One possibility is having the Boonville Fourth of July Fireworks at the fairgrounds. The two sides are still in the preliminary stages, however, Boonville Chamber of Commerce Director Karen Esser said.

“We have already started the planning for 2021,” Siegel said. “We had a great fair planned this season with some new surprises, however, the health and safety of the exhibitors and spectators was our upmost priority.”