After being forced to cancel most of the events last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Meade County Fair is slated to make a full return later this summer. In a recent interview, Fair Board Chairman David Pace said that all the major events are contracted, and at this point, the fair board is planning for a full lineup of a seven-day fair.
“The main thing right now is we want people to feel comfortable. That’s number one,” Pace explained. “No one has to come, but we are going to make it as accessible as possible.”
To that end, Pace said that they feel like the outdoor capacity of the fairgrounds is around 14,000, which even at 60 percent capacity would mean close to 8,500 people would meet guidelines. With Friday night attendance usually ranging around 8,000 people and other nights ranging somewhere around 5 to 8 thousand, he feels that the outdoor attendance would easily fall within current guidelines. He said that they are looking at their indoor events in buildings such as the Home and Garden Building and the Farm Bureau Building.
“Some of that we may have to limit a little bit,” Pace said. “Instead of putting six sets of bleachers in there, we may put three sets of bleachers in there to cut those numbers of seats down, but by July, even that could change. We just don’t know yet, and he (Gov. Beshear) is saying if another million people get vaccinated there won’t be any restrictions.”
The main thing is they want people to feel safe. To achieve that, the board continues to monitor not only guidelines, but also will have plans in place for increased sanitation. This includes more precautions in bathroom facilities, backpack sprayers that will be walking around and spraying sanitizer throughout the day on everything from bleachers to handrails, as well as making hand sanitation stations easily accessible throughout the fairgrounds.
The fair rides and gaming booths operated by Kissel will also be returning this year.
“They are already in operation. They’ve been in northern Florida since March 15,” Pace said. “They have a plan where they clean in between ever so many rides, and they do sanitation, spraying and wiping down. They have sanitation stations all throughout.”
Pace said there would be new events, along with some slight rearranging of the traditional fair schedule, such as moving the garden tractor pull from Wednesday night to the main arena on the first Saturday night of the fair.
“We are partnering with the Meade County Chamber and Tourism, and we’re bringing Matt Jones and Ohio Valley Wrestling to Brandenburg,” Pace revealed. “They are comparable to Triple A baseball for wrestling; Ohio Valley has a lot of people that make that jump to the top professional level. Plus we are going to have Kentucky Sports Radio here one day.”
Pace said that last year they had Monster Trucks slated to make an appearance prior to the cancelation of all motorsports in 2020. He says they are so expensive to contract that they were afraid to take the risk this year when there was still so much uncertainty.
It has been widely reported that many county fairs may never return after last year due to financial issues that already existed along with complete cancelation in 2020. With Meade County running a very limited fair with no sponsors, gate fees, or any other income in 2020, the fair lost big last year as bills such as electric, water, sewer and upkeep still came in.
“We bit the bullet, but we couldn’t do it again this year,” Pace explained. “Our Board—I’ve got to applaud them, though. We made it across the board that we aren’t raising the prices on anything this year. The gate is going to stay at $12, the booth spaces are all staying the same, everything.”
So, be sure to mark your calendars. Not only will the Meade County Fair be making its return this July 24 through July 31, but this will also mark Meade County’s 100th fair. It should be one to remember.