The Wyoming Fair Association announced in a press release that the 86th Annual Wyoming Fair has been postponed to 2021.
The Wyoming Fair began in 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression, survived through World War II and has seen many changes over the years. In order to mitigate risk for those involved, the fair will take a year off due the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve been on the board 50 years, and it’s the first time I’ve ever had to look at this,” Wyoming Fair Association Treasurer Jim Eichorn said.
This was a very difficult and heart-wrenching decision to make for all of the board members. Many factors were taken into consideration, including: public health concerns, CDC guidelines and recommendations, the ability to secure volunteers and financial well-being.
“It’s a disappointment for all of us that given this situation we can’t go ahead and have our fair, but we all came to an agreement and understand as far as safety concerns and the way things are going with COVID-19, it was probably for the better this year,” President Jason Zamastil said.
Eichorn said the Wyoming Fair Association members have been monitoring the pandemic and its potential impact on the fair since a district meeting of other fair associations in Linn County, March 15, and has been keeping an eye on what other fairs, not only in Iowa, but across the nation have been doing.
“It’s a tough one,” Eichorn said. “It just rips your heart out…it just makes everybody sick and heartbroken to see it happen. These people spend all year working to prepare these fairs, getting ready for the kids and trying to prepare some entertainment for people, and ‘bam,’ it’s taken right out from under you.”
The fair has shown beef projects for almost 70 years, sheep for more than 30 years and horses for as many years as there has been a fair. The arena had undergone improvements to expand the arena and make fencing more permanent to allow for more events to be held there. One practice was able to be held in the new and improved arena before the weather went south. Practices were scheduled to resume in April, but due to the pandemic, it has not been able to be used.
“We’re very happy with it, now we’d just like to be able to use it,” Eichorn said.
Another improvement, to replace the fairground’s playground equipment spearheaded by Kristina Agnitsch, was set to be installed in the spring but was delayed due to the pandemic. Zamastil said the plan is for the updated equipment to be installed in late summer, early fall.
Other events that will be skipped, due to the break in the fair include: the bucket bottle show, rabbit show and poultry show, as well as the queen contest and pedal pull. The tractor pull has been a major aspect of the fair for many years, highly popular with pullers and spectators. The fair draws exhibitors and spectators from several counties in Iowa as well as Illinois and Wisconsin.
With time to prepare and time to recover, the Association looks forward to the 86th Annual Wyoming Fair July 9, 10 and 11, 2021. It is hoped the grounds can be available for other events later this year. While nothing is planned, the association is already looking at what they will need to do for next year in dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic.
The grand marshals of the parade were to be Brad and Lisa Wherry of Wyoming Auto, who will be honored next year.