Faern Tait of Port Angeles shows off Valentina, a 10-year-old alpaca, at the 2019 Clallam County Fair. Officials have cancelled the 2020 fair with Clallam County not likely able to host large gatherings by mid-August. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Faern Tait of Port Angeles shows off Valentina, a 10-year-old alpaca, at the 2019 Clallam County Fair. Officials have cancelled the 2020 fair with Clallam County not likely able to host large gatherings by mid-August. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Clallam County Fair cancelled for 2020

The livestock displays, rodeo, carnival, scones and more will have to wait until 2021.

The 2020 Clallam County Fair, set to be the 101st iteration of the event and scheduled for Aug. 20-23 at the fairgrounds in Port Angeles, has been cancelled.

It’s the first time since 1946 that the county has suspended the fair, and only the second time in its 101-year history that an outbreak of disease has forced the fair’s cancellation (1918’s influenza pandemic).

“We have been working under the assumption that the 2020 Clallam County Fair would occur as scheduled,” Joel Winborn, director of Clallam County Parks, Fair & Facilities Department, said in a press release today, May 29.

“However, due to current COVID-19 concerns and after meeting with the Clallam County Health Officer, WSU Extension Director and the 4-H Program Coordinator it was clear that there were far too many unknowns remaining in order for us to dedicate the time and necessary resources to produce the 2020 Fair.”

Hosting the fair would only be possible, he said, if Clallam County were in Phase 4 of the Governor’s “Safe Start” plan, which does not appear possible.

Fair officials are already directing their efforts toward next year’s fair, scheduled for Aug. 19-22, 2021.

“Clallam County has a long history of facing adversity and flourishing in difficult times,” Clallam County Fair manager Shari Ioffrida said. “Our return next year will be a reunion where we will celebrate our county’s resilience and accomplishments.”

4-H, FFA auction

The fair has since 1895 linked thousands of businesses and individuals in the community who forward to showcasing their products and services to fair-goers, Winborn said.

It has also been a format for members of local 4-H and FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) clubs to vie for top honors and dollars for their market animals during the livestock auction, Winborn said.

“It has been heartbreaking to have to weigh in on this decision,” 4-H program coordinator Melanie Greer said in a statement. “4-Hers and FFAers work hard all year on the projects they showcase at the fair, and this year is no different. Hundreds of Clallam County youth have put in countless hours so far toward this fair and deserve recognition for their hard work and perseverance.

“Healthy living and community service are central to 4-H, and it is in this spirit that we temporarily put our own hopes aside in larger service to the health of the whole community.”

Winborn said that over the past weeks plans have been underway for a Virtual Livestock Sale in the event the fair were to be cancelled. More information is forthcoming from the Pacific Northwest Junior Livestock Auction with regards to a time and place, he said.

Greer noted that those in the community looking to support 4-H youth who auction animals to contact the Pacific Northwest Junior Livestock Auction via the organization’s website, www.pnwjla.com.

Fair through the years

The fair’s history dates back to 1895, held in the Port Angeles Opera House located on Front and Laurel Street on the first weekend in October.

Laurie Davies, a Clallam County Fair board member, noted the first Clallam fair was put together by several civic leaders and was promoted to boost the morale of Clallam County citizens following the Panic of 1893.

Clallam County Citizens came as far as Neah Bay and Forks, and a ferry was available for Victoria’s travelers. Attendance was not recorded, Davies, said, but 700 entries were presented at the first fair. Tickets were $0.25 for all except Friday evening festivities (an extra $0.50), or $1 for a season’s pass.

Over the years, the fair was either suspended or other activities were held in its place four times; from 1896-1913, before the second fair; in 1918, during the worldwide outbreak of influenza; in 1920, when fair officials purchased property and began planning for events at its current location just west of Port Angeles, and 1942-1946, during World War II.

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