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Cleveland County Fair canceled over COVID-19 concerns

The decision was made after an emergency board meeting was held Tuesday
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:46 AM EDT
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SHELBY, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina’s largest outdoor agricultural fair has once again been canceled over COVID-19 concerns.

The Cleveland County Fair was scheduled to run Sept. 30 through Oct. 10, but an emergency meeting by the fair’s board on Wednesday night to discuss a sharp rise in local cases and hospitalizations brought forth the decision to cancel.

Following the joint recommendation of the Cleveland County Health Department and Atrium Health-Cleveland, the Fair Board decided, after careful consideration and lengthy discussion, that the 2021 Cleveland County Fair would be canceled.

“Our priority is the health and safety of the community,” Cleveland County Health Director Tiffany Hansen said. “As numbers continue to rise and the pandemic continues to unfold, the medical system is being severely impacted, and we are at risk of losing more lives. In the face of this unprecedented situation, the decision to hold this year’s fair had to be reconsidered.”

While the fair board had planned for additional safety measures, concern by local health and public safety officials over the severe impact this event could have on the county’s already strained medical system led local leaders to this difficult decision.

“The fair board did not come to this conclusion easily, and we know that people will have mixed emotions, as we all do,” Cleveland County Fair Board Chairman Alex Lattimore said. “The Board would like to thank those who have supported this event and looks forward to welcoming everyone back to the fair in 2022.”

Hans Klose is already at the fairgrounds with two camels, some hogs and performing dogs.

He came early because the Cabarrus County fair, where he was scheduled to show, was canceled.

Losing this job as well is tough, he says, “But it is what it is and we’ll do what we gotta do.” He is not sure where he will go next.

The fair shutdown also affects non-profit groups in the area. Many depend on the fair to bring in money to support their activities.

“This is their single biggest fundraiser of the year or maybe their only fundraiser for the year,” said Wayne Hendrick.

Fair organizers say it will hit their finances hard as well, but officials said they think they have enough in reserve to try again in 2022.

In the meantime, people who paid registration and exhibit fees will get a refund. Officials said they are just asking for patience because there is a lot to do to get that done.

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