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Kern County Fair board chair: “Completely premature” to cancel KC Fair

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Members of the Kern County Fair Board said Monday it is too early to cancel the Kern County Fair.

“It would be completely premature for us to close it right now,” said Board Chairwoman Blodgie Rodriguez at Monday evening’s board meeting, noting the annual event is scheduled for Sept. 23-Oct. 4.

Finance Chair Lucas Espericueta said a cancellation would lead to a loss of $3 million in a “worst situation,” and $1.5 million in a “second-worst” situation.

Kern County Fair CEO Michael Olcott said the Board will need to make an official decision no later than July.

Annual fairs in San Diego, San Bernardino and San Mateo counties are just some that have been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During an interview with 17 News last week, Board Chairwoman Blodgie Rodriguez said the decision to cancel would not to be an easy one.

“The criteria for our decision is, and always has been, and always will be, the guidance the governor issues,” she said. “Although we’re not funded by the state of California, we are governed by the state of California, and our board is governor-appointed, so, we’re going to do what he says.

“… So if that’s masks, if that’s social distancing” the Fair board will require it, she said. “We don’t know what that looks like. … It’s evolving, day by day sometimes hour by hour.”

She said the board recognizes the importance the Fair has for many families.

“The mission, not only of our staff but our board and our supporters, is to make it the best Fair and the best experience,” she said. “Because we’re very cognizant of the fact that this, for many families, is their (one annual) vacation.”

Some county fairs are going forward. The El Dorado County Fair, east of Sacramento, is set to open June 18, and it’s still a go. Same for the Los Angeles County Fair, for Sept. 4 in Pomona.

The fairgrounds is already in play in another respect: Some the exhibition halls are on standby as overflow hospitals and a fleet of 15 new RVs has been set aside for homeless people infected by the virus. None of it has yet been needed.

Towards the end of Monday’s meeting, board members remained optimistic.

“We need to hang in there,” said Board Member Ned Dunphy. “Everybody’s hearts are in the right places, and I think with calm deliberation we’re going to bring this thing home,” he continued.

The board presented a video towards the end of the meeting with a similar sentiment.

“When the world emerges from this crisis, we’ll be here,” the video’s narrator said.

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