'It's insanely important': County fairs hopeful after 100% capacity allowed at State Fair
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement Monday that the New York State Fair will be able to operate at 100% capacity this summer provides hope for county fairs, who have been waiting for further guidance.
County fairs were not allowed to operate last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That has changed this year, but the state still has not announced at what capacity and restrictions, if any.
The Chautauqua County Fair finally gave up waiting and decided to focus on next year. Niagara County Fair Executive Director Justin Rogers said he is still waiting.
"We were planning on having the fair. We're going through the process of getting approval from the county and the state, and the recent news regarding the state fair is positive and encouraging," Rogers said, "but we still need additional guidance at the county level so that we know if there's going to be any more restrictions."
Rogers said the fair is a big deal for the farm families in Niagara County.
"It's insanely important," he said. "It's a big part of what the families have been accustomed to. It's a way for them to network with other farmers in the community, see how other families are doing and, really, all their hard work that the 4-H youth have been doing to raise and cultivate their animals all year long."
Rogers said kids get a chance to show off the animals they have raised and put into competition. In past years, the winners of the competitions could go to the State Fair for statewide competition.
He is expecting hundreds of animals from across the country for the fair in Lockport, scheduled for Aug. 4-9.
"Everyone on our CC staff and in the community, our volunteers, our 4-H youth are really ecstatic about the fair returning for 2021 and being open and functioning like they are used to or at least as close to it as possible, given the current year," he said.