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March 28, 2020

Coronavirus concerns could possibly delay 2020 Salinas Valley Fair

Options being considered for 76th annual event in King City

KING CITY — Events at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds in King City are among the many cancellations and postponements, but the largest to consider is the annual Salinas Valley Fair itself.

Fairground directors scheduled an emergency board meeting March 18 to discuss possible plans, with a final decision about the 2020 Fair to be made by March 27.

“We want to give ourselves another week to make the best decision for our community,” said Salinas Valley Fair CEO TJ Plew. “We realize there’s more information we need in order to do that.”

Plew said all board members have been tasked with communicating with subcommittees regarding livestock, still exhibits, entertainment, carnival, horse show and food and beverages.

“We know that, based on our economic impact, that we generate about $12 million in spending through all the activities that we do at the Fairgrounds,” she said.

A decision was already made to cancel the April 25 Fair Kickoff Dinner, as well as all events scheduled at the fairgrounds through April 30. The fair itself — planned for May 14 through 17 — remains in limbo pending exploration of plans, which include rescheduling many of the fair’s contents to later in the year.

“We have already set our Fall Carnival, which is the last weekend in September,” Plew said. “Does that become a bigger event in the wake of what we’re dealing with now?” She added, “A fun event to bring our community together in the fall is absolutely on the table.”

However, while simply delaying the fair’s fun and entertainment is possible, the animals are another consideration.

“These animals have specific times when they are ready to be harvested,” Plew said. “There are certain dates that are firm deadlines. People with a steer or a pig, they can’t hold over to the fall. That is something we do know is time-sensitive that needs a solution.”

Among the many stakeholders in the fair, Plew noted the most invested are the 4-H and FFA exhibitors. They have steers, sheep, goats and pigs, and must have direction on what is coming next.

The livestock are part of the weekend auction, and Plew said online auctions are an option, which is under consideration.

“We want to give them a good answer and we want to be part of the solution of getting those animals out into food production,” Plew said. “Making sure people can be fed and have healthy, nutritious meals, something they prepare at home. Our youth are raising these animals that will eventually be out in our grocery stores.”

As far as care and feeding of animals, Plew said that is ongoing as the youth who care for fair animals already tend to come in at different times and are distant from each other. She said the feed stores are an essential business for all livestock.

“If anybody is having a hard time in being able to purchase feed or having a hard time being able to take care of their animal, we ask them to connect with the Salinas Valley Fair so we can put them into contact with resources to make sure their animals are well-fed,” Plew said.

Until further notice, Salinas Valley Fair is still taking entries for this year’s 76th annual event, with an April 1 deadline. Entries around the fairgrounds’ exhibit halls are a large part of the visual tradition of the fair.

“You all are in our hearts and on our minds as we navigate through these difficult times,” wrote the fairgrounds in a Facebook post March 18. “We want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to remedy this situation.”

Sean Roney
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler, Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.

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