County fairs this year will either be chock-full or people will stay away, and area fair boards have found peace with the possible outcomes. They just hope to provide a weekend of fun away from the stark reality of the pandemic.
"We may have a really, really good year," Miller County Fair board President Terry Wood said.
Miller County has opted to continue its county fair this year. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Miller County had reported a total of 15 coronavirus cases — two of its neighboring counties, Camden and Moniteau, were at 66 and 61 cases, respectively.
"We don't really have any (coronavirus) community spread down here," Wood said of the decision to continue holding the fair.
The fair will kick off at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday with a themed parade at the Eldon Career Center on 2nd Street. This year, the parade theme is "American Flare at The County Fair." Lineup is at 5 p.m.
Later in the evening and throughout the rest of the week, the carnival will be open 6-10:30 p.m. The carnival itself will be free to enter, but armbands will be available every night for $30 for unlimited riding fun or $25 if you buy in advance at the Eldon Advertiser office or Gerbes Super Market in Eldon.
Other events include a UTV rodeo on Tuesday, Little Royalty Contest on Wednesday, the Youth Livestock Judging Contest on July 9, a livestock auction July 10 and the Demolition Derby closing out the official schedule of events at 7 p.m. July 11.
The full schedule of events can be seen at millercountyfair.com/schedule-of-events.html.
Due to COVID-19, the official county fair website notes the livestock show will only be open to in-county livestock.
Handwashing stations and hand sanitizer to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be available on the fairgrounds. In addition, Wood said carnival staff will be disinfecting rides.
2020 Osage County Fair
Despite having to make a few adjustments to the schedule, the Osage County Fair also will continue largely unscathed July 9-11.
Still, there will be some changes. Jason Backes, of the Linn Lions Club that sponsors the fair, said many close-contact events have been eliminated, and staff will set multiple hand sanitizing stations throughout the grounds.
Many teens and children who participate in regular fair activities had already gotten a head start on their projects. Backes said he wanted to keep it as normal as possible, giving them a chance to showcase and sell their items. Without the county fair, they might not have had the chance to showcase those projects.
The fair schedule still includes rides, games and, of course, live music.
On the evenings of July 10 and 11, the main stage will spotlight a handful of local musicians. The rock-hit cover band Point 08 will play 9 p.m.-midnight July 10, and Osage Drifters, who played at the 2019 county fair as well, will take the stage 7-8:30 p.m. July 11. Wrapping up the fair from 9 p.m.-midnight later that evening is the country duo Murphy's Ford.
A full list of events can be found at osagecountyfair.com/schedule. Season tickets are $20. There will be no advance ride sales. All ride tickets and ride passes are to be purchased at the ride area.
Some activities that were canceled included the super farmer contest, 3-on-3 basketball, wine garden or homemade wine contest, and the children's day at the fair.
Like Wood, Backes said fair staff isn't quite sure what to expect, but "compared to some fairs, (the Osage County Fair) is a true county fair." Most of those who visit are in-county residents, Backes said.
And though everything may be different this year, Backes said, he hopes the community can look forward to the upcoming festivities.