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Kern County Fair board to weigh possible cancellation at Monday meeting


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — All across California, county fairs are dropping faster than the descent on carnival Zipper rides.

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

What’s the plan in for the Kern County Fair? You might say it’s the antithesis of social distancing — crammed carnival rides, long lines for corn dogs, arenas packed for graying ‘80s bands. For hundreds of thousands, the Kern County Fair is a great fall tradition.

But it too is in danger now, with the coronavirus lingering and many experts saying we shouldn’t be allowing large gatherings — things like sporting events, concerts or county fairs — for another year or more.

When the Kern County Fair board of directors convenes Monday via Zoom for its regularly scheduled meeting, that will be the big question: Cancel the Fair, set for Sept. 23-Oct. 4, or keep it?

Board chairwoman Blodgie Rodriguez doesn’t expect the decision 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 baord 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.

Which way will Kern County go? We should know soon.

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.

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