The 2020 Siskiyou Golden Fair has been called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the fair board's monthly meeting Tuesday night at the fairgrounds in Yreka, it was decided to reduce the fair to a junior livestock market animal show and some competitive exhibits.
The majority of the annual festivities, including the carnival, food concessions, grandstand events, and general public attendance were eliminated.
It was a decision the board did not make lightly during the meeting, which stretched on for more than two hours.
The fair had been scheduled to take place Aug. 12-16.
During the meeting, there was some discussion about wait ing on a decision until a special board meeting on June 9, to see if the COVID-19 situation changes by that time. It was ultimately decided by the board in a 3-2 vote to reduce the fair instead of wait to make the decision.
Board president Jason Finley said after the meeting the consensus was that the situation would not have changed drastically enough by June 9, so it was best to let the public, vendors, concessionaires, and those that run the carnival about the cancelation as soon as possible.
"I felt this decision was inevitable," he said. "It was important for us to still have the junior livestock show and support the kids."
Finley explained that many of the kids have already bought their animals for the fair, such as pigs. At this time, it is still open-ended if the livestock show will be held at the fairgrounds or be moved to a virtual event online.
Fair CEO Cliff Munson was visibly emotional when the decision was made.
"I'm going to cry," he said at the meeting. "It's very hard."
He and the fair board members empathized that it did not appear that Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan, which allows for mass gatherings like the Siskiyou Golden Fair, would be approved by August.
"We will be creating several plans that will be used depending on where we are on the four-phase plan that is being used in California,” Munson said. “This fair started as an agricultural show featuring competitive exhibits in 1859 and we are going back to our beginnings to showcase our community in 2020.”
Finley said the fair is a labor of love for those involved in its organization.
About making the decision now, Finley said, “We owe it to them to give sufficient time to alter their plans for this summer. The fair does not come together quickly ... It is a year-long culmination with hundreds of hours of planning and preparing."
Currently, the agreed-upon number of participants that will be allowed at any event where social distancing requirements are recommended was so low that it would be economically unfeasible to move forward with the 2020 fair, Finley said.
“We are cognizant of the health and safety of our community at all times,” Munson said. “The Siskiyou Golden Fair has been a family tradition for our community for 161 years and a source of livelihood for many individuals, businesses and local non-profit organizations. Our hearts go out to all our partners in the fair, the exhibitors, and especially the youth that will miss the total fair experience this year.”
Fair officials said on Wednesday they would have more updates in the weeks ahead as to the process that will be used to run the junior livestock events and how the community can help support the market livestock projects.
Also at the May 19 meeting, board members discussed having a smaller-scale event at the fairgrounds in August, with one or two food vendors and other events, like a poultry show. The board was unanimous in their decision that nothing concrete could be planned at this time, but it was something to revisit later.
Fair officials said they would be ready to have the fair return as normal in 2021, Aug. 11-15.