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Lorain County Fair Will Go On, Despite Wellington Mayor's Concerns

A trailer outside the beef barn at the Lorain County fairgrounds. [Annie Wu / ideastream]
A trailer outside the beef barn at the Lorain County fairgrounds.

Lorain County is set to host its 175th annual county fair next month. More than 100,000 visitors are expected to watch horse-and-pony pulls, listen to live music and taste new buttery creations at the fair.

But the mayor of the nearby village of Wellington, Hans Schneider, hopes they don’t.

Last Friday,  he posted an open letter on his Facebook page outlining his concerns, centered around the possible spread of coronavirus at the fair.

“When you made the decision to move forward with the fair, you did so with the best intentions in mind,” Schneider wrote on Facebook. “You looked at the Covid-19 numbers, you consulted the health department, you held open meetings asking for opinions and you believed you could put on a safe fair. Unfortunately, for everyone, the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Positive case numbers are up and our county is at a Level 3. There is no such thing as a safe fair anymore.”

Lorain County Fair President Kim Meyers said he’s aware of the mayor’s Facebook post, but spent all weekend at the fairgrounds getting ready for opening day. 

“We believe we can do this very safely,” Meyers told ideastream. 

Meyers said necessary precautions are being taken to ensure fair-goers’ safety this year, including requiring fair employees to wear masks and gloves. Attendees will be encouraged to socially distance and will have to follow state-mandated guidelines, which currently would include wearing face masks. 

The community has lost out on so many experiences this year already because of COVID-19, and the fair shouldn’t be one of them, he said.

“We think it’s important to our community to have it too, to give them back something that they like and they can look forward to and kind of bring them back to a little bit of normalcy,” Meyers said. 

But Schneider believes holding the event is too risky. 

“The fair is not a necessary event that needs to go on,” Schneider said Monday. “As mayor of a village of 5,000 people, to hold one of the biggest fairs… in the state that over 100,000 people plus annually attend, I didn’t think the risk during the current pandemic was worth it.”

Schneider said visitors are often packed wall-to-wall at the fair, making social distancing difficult. He also worries attendees won’t just stop by the fair but also make trips into town to visit local restaurants and grab gas at the local gas station.

Wellington has already had seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death, according to Schneider, and he worries that the influx of visitors will exacerbate the problem. 

Both Schneider and Meyers said based on the feedback they’ve gotten over the weekend, they feel they have the community’s support. 

The Lorain County Fair is set to run from Aug. 23-30.