Bloomsburg Fair’s board made the right decision in pulling the plug on the 2020 fair days after President Randy Karschner said he believed the fair had just a 50-50 chance of happening this year.
We think it would have been foolish to hold the event while a pandemic still lingers and many people are too stubborn or skeptical to wear a mask in public.
The Bloomsburg Fair draws tens of thousands of people from not just the Valley but from a large part of the state and from other states. To believe that most fair-goers will 1. wear a mask, and 2. socially distance from other people, is naive.
During the recent monster truck show at the fairgrounds and even the Firemen’s Relief Carnival, the weekend before last, masks were a rare sight.
Still think the mask thing is a political hoax?
At least 19 people were infected with COVID-19 after attending the Pickaway County Fair in Circleville, Ohio, in late June, CNN reported, citing a county public health agency report. The report stated the Pickaway County Fair Board and people planning the fair failed to implement precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, CNN said. Among other blunders, staff and food vendors did not adhere to the mask-wearing guidance.
Before the cancellation, Bloomsburg Fair Grandstand Superintendent Brian Wawroski said the fair “absolutely will follow guidelines” that the state sets for the fair. Karschner admitted the fair doesn’t have enough people to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines and it would have been a hard sell.
It didn’t help that the fair posted on its Facebook page the dunk tank at the fire company carnival depicting a man dressed as a woman who resembled state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. The post, later deleted, included the words, “Dr. Levine? Thank you. You were a hit and raised a lot of money for the local fire companies. Wonder why so many were trying to dunk you?”
That looked like a political snipe, at first glance. Levine and Gov. Tom Wolf have drawn criticism for their handling of the pandemic. Except that Levine is a transgender woman, which made the post into something more personal, mocking the secretary for her gender identity.
LGBTQ groups expressed outrage on social media over the post, and Karschner and Wawroski issued an apology early last week that seemed insincere, especially after Karschner, when asked if the fair should donate the money raised with the dunk tank to an LGBTQ group, replied, “The money raised was for the firemen, so I’d hate to turn around and throw it away.”
The advocacy groups already were calling for a boycott of the fair before that.
We understand it was a difficult decision. The fair brings in tens of thousands of dollars to the town and surrounding areas. It is something many people — vendors, Valley residents, students, concert-goers — annually look forward to.
Holding the fair, though, would have greatly increased the chances of spreading the virus around the state and beyond. Though the fair association and the town may make some money, businesses that may again have to shut down and employees who may be out of work will not.