Charles County Fair Canceled On What Would Have Been Its 97th Anniversary

LA PLATA, Md. — After months of deliberation over an uncertain future, the Charles County Fair Board unanimously voted on July 20 to cancel their annual fair which was previously scheduled for Sept. 17-21.

This year’s operation would have been the 97th anniversary of the celebration, having only ever canceled the fair one other time in its history, back during World War II.

Fair Board President Glenn Belmore told last week that the directors had been ramping up to the Monday night decision for weeks, watching all other surrounding counties make the call to cancel until they were one of the only local fairs left.

Now, there appears to be some uncertainty going forward as to how not hosting this fair, much like any other county’s fair, will fiscally impact the hosting organizations and boards. For the Charles County Fair, a nonprofit who touts growing and improving their operation every year on their website — and saw estimates of over 45,000 attendees last year — not hosting their biggest event of the year may impact their ability to host bigger and better events in the immediate future. Or maybe even other events at all.

Take the Fourth of July fireworks which are set off every year at the La Plata Fairgrounds for example.

“Your continuing support allows us to upgrade the fair and its facilities each year and to pay for our annual [Fourth] of July fireworks,” the Charles County Fair website reads.

This year, their fireworks display was also canceled due to concerns of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, that decision was made in late-May.

“There were many factors in reaching this decision including County Commissioners and Governor's phases, concerns of packed seating areas creating potential exposures for attending public,” Belmore said in the release. “[Canceling the fireworks] is the responsible choice for the Fair Board to do its part to support community health and safety, and to minimize the spread of COVID-19. We have tremendously loyal attendees, vendors, partners, and a fireworks staff. For that, we are forever grateful, and our greatest responsibility is to ensure that the fair remains strong and resilient for future generations.”

Fortunately for the board, there were likely some cost savings associated with that cancelation, as well as public health benefits. How events next year at various fairgrounds across the state will shape up — from the economic impact to the public health impact — is yet to be determined.

That is, assuming that we all will once again be allowed to gather as we used to by then.

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