The 2020 edition of the Oregon State Fair has been canceled. (Oregon State Fair photo)
SALEM – There will be no Oregon State Fair this year, another victim of the coronavirus.
The fair, a major end-of-summer event in Salem for exhibitors and visitors from across the state, was scheduled for Aug. 28 through Sept. 7.
“This decision was driven by the need to guarantee safe social distancing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, aka COVID-19,” the state-owned fair operation said in a announcing the decision on its website Thursday.
“The Oregon State Fair Council had hoped to continue the 156-year tradition of this classic American state fair. But the council fully supports the State of Oregon’s measured, scientific, and responsible approach to combatting COVID-19,” the fair said in its announcement.
The development came hours after Gov. Kate Brown announced new details on a phased opening of Oregon but warned that large events such as fairs and rodeos wouldn’t be allowed through September.
The fair, started in Oregon City in 1861, drew more than 250,000 visitors in 2019 and featured the usual mix of farm animals, commercial exhibitors and food booths.
Concerts have become a big attraction during the fair, drawing a record 19,467 people in 2019.
And the cancellation means a disruption in one of the fair’s most beloved features - the Gerry Frank Chocolate Layer Cake Contest. The contest drew 81 entries in 2019.
“The health and safety of fairgoers, exhibitors, competitors, performers, sponsors, vendors, contractors, volunteers and staff is the top priority of the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center,” the fair said in its Thursday statement.