The Washington State Fair is cancelled this year, the Fair announced this afternoon.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the Fair’s CEO Kent Hojem said the Fair will be cancelled in order to keep its guests and vendors safe from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At its core, any fair, ours included, is a people-gathering event, the more people the better. That hypothesis runs contrary to the challenges of containing this pandemic,” Hojem said in a news release. “Consequently, though it was a difficult decision, it was really the only decision possible based on what we currently know. It was a decision made in what we feel are the best interests of the health and safety of all of our guests, our employees, our exhibitors; basically all of our constituents.”
Hojem said the Fair waited as long as it could to make this decision. It takes months to plan the Fair each year. Based on the current state of the pandemic and Gov. Inslee’s phased approach to reopening the economy, Hojem said this was the right time to make the decision to cancel.
Hojem said he realizes this action will cause severe economic effects to all the Fair’s partners, but the Fair must take the health and safety of all these stakeholders into consideration. The Washington State Fair typically employs about 8,000 to 9,000 people each year. That number includes full time and seasonal workers, vendors, and all other help. The Fair usually brings in around $250 million a year.
“We know that not having a fair this year creates a hardship for many, but people are the most important component in the incredibly complex equation of what makes up our fair,” he said. “Health and safety are our greatest concerns. There are other concerns. Our people, our fair people, have expectations of what the Washington State Fair will be; that wonderful blend of exciting new things and rich traditions. The potential limitations brought on by the necessity of social distancing, would create a situation that could not reflect the future memories that we would want the 2020 Fair to produce.”
The Washington State Fair would have celebrated its 120th anniversary this September. The Fair operated uninterrupted, except for the four years of World War II.
“Since 1900, the Washington State Fair has been ‘Washington’s home to gather and celebrate.’ We want to make certain that we remain that home for generations to come,” Hojem said. “This is our mission statement and we intend to welcome you all home as soon as we can.”
For more information, visit thefair.com.