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Fairgoers swing by as the sun sets behind the midway during the 2019 Rock County 4-H Fair.

JANESVILLE

The Rock County 4-H Fair has been canceled for 2020 because of community health concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release posted on the fair’s Facebook page Friday.

Space on the fairgrounds being used for a COVID-19 isolation center also contributed to the decision to cancel what would have been its 91st fair, fair board President Ryan George said in the release.

The fair board met Thursday night, but George declined to comment after the meeting. The decision was announced Friday morning.

Rock County’s health department approved plans for a “scaled-down” version of the fair, but those were “not possible given new information about the COVID-19 Isolation Center footprint which extends beyond Craig Center to a majority of the fairgrounds,” the release states.

George in the release said they understand the isolation center “takes precedence” in this scenario.

“A lot of the plans we had figured out have kind of fallen through because we don’t have the space now,” George said in an earlier interview with The Gazette.

Under normal circumstances, the fair brings in thousands of youth exhibitors, families, local businesses and nonprofit groups, according to the release.

That won’t happen this year.

“We are heartbroken,” the release states. “These people are what makes the Rock County 4-H Fair special and, with them in mind, we exhausted every option to hold the fair in 2020.”

In Walworth County, Larry Gaffey, fairgrounds general manager, said earlier in May that—while “things change every day”—they were still hoping and planning to hold their fair Sept. 2-7 in full.

They are planning for other scenarios, too, he added.

George in the Rock County release said fair officials are looking forward to “brighter, better days ahead” when they can celebrate again.

“Until then, stay safe, be well and support each other,” the release states. “We’ll miss you.”

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