By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
EL RENO – Canadian County will have its annual fair this week, but it will be a truncated version.
A scaled-back 66th Annual Canadian County Free Fair will be Aug. 26-28 at the county fairgrounds, 220 N Country Club Road.
The Canadian County Fair Board, at its July 16 meeting, voted to cancel most of this year’s county fair activities.
So that means there will be no carnival, rodeo, horse events, tractor pulls, trap shooting, or live musical entertainment.
However, there will be the youth livestock competition open to students across Canadian County. The sheep and goat shows will be Wednesday, the beef cattle show Thursday and swine show Friday.
“We’re trying to do something for the youth who had and maintained livestock projects all summer long,” said Brad Tipton, secretary of the Canadian County Fair Board. “This at least gives them a show they can bring their animals to and have a competition.”
As Canadian County prepares to open a new $15.2 million fairgrounds complex next summer, District 2 County Commissioner David Anderson shared the importance of at least having the livestock exhibits this go-round.
“Kids begin their livestock projects months in advance and the fair is a place for them to show their animals,” Anderson said. “It’s really important that they get that opportunity because they don’t have that many shows to attend.
“I’m really disappointed that we have to scale back and not have our fair with the big crowds and everything. Next year will be the start of a new facility for our fair. We’re really looking forward to that.”
About 50 cattle, 60-70 sheep and goats and around 150 hogs are expected for next week’s Canadian County Fair youth livestock competition.
A new county fairgrounds and expo center – now being built at Jensen and Alfadale roads near El Reno – is due to host the 67th Annual Canadian County Free Fair in August 2021.
“What a letdown to not even have much of a fair – other than the livestock (competition),” Tipton said. “Next year should be pretty darn exciting being in new facilities. Hopefully that makes up for this bad, down year, which everybody’s having.”
‘SHOW AND GO’
Canadian County’s fair board will use Centers for Disease Control safety (CDC) precautions for next week’s “show and go” livestock activity.
“The fair board made the right decision, and a prudent decision, when they decided to go with just a ‘show and go’,” Tipton opined. “Eventually, the Oklahoma State Fair (in Oklahoma City) completely canceled, and Tulsa State Fair went to this concept too.”
The Texas State Fair and Kansas State Fair also were canceled.
Typically, Canadian County youth livestock exhibitors bring their animals and are on-site at the fairgrounds’ barns for three or four days.
But that’s not going to be the case this year.
Students instead will bring their animals in, show them and take them home the same day.
“We’ve heard from 4-H leaders and FFA instructors who are just glad that we’re doing something,” Tipton shared. “Even if it’s a ‘show and go’, small scale, where nobody’s staying overnight.
“They’ll show up in the morning, get their entries in, show (the animals) and then they’ll go home, and we’ll disinfect the place.”
County fair organizers are implementing safety protocols so students will be comfortable coming out to show their animals.
They aren’t expecting large crowds since the livestock show will be in the middle of the day, according to Tipton.
Most other counties have canceled their fairs due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns.
“This year is something that we are all going to be glad to see in our rear-view mirror,” Commissioner Anderson said. “I don’t have a prediction when it will end.
“But I know one thing. I miss the things we often take for granted – like graduations, weddings, starting up school, and kicking off football season. All of that. It’s different this year.”