BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Fair Board voted Monday to postpone this year’s fair.
The county is extending a contract to continue using the fairgrounds through Sept. 30 as a COVID-19 vaccination site and emergency care site, and the extension overlaps with most of the dates on which the fair takes place.
The board voted to accept the contract following a discussion in which members expressed disappointment but said restrictions had not eased to the point where they could put on the event, which draws tens of thousands of people.
A four-day “festival” could possibly be held in the fall depending on state and county regulations at that time, the board said. It would not have a carnival and other events the fair typically has.
Fair CEO Mike Olcott said the county has the right to take over the fairgrounds whether the board signed the contract or not. He compared it to how fairgrounds in other counties are sometimes used by emergency services during wildfires.
Additionally, there are are no contracts in place for the fair, Olcott said, and it takes more than a year “to plan the fair people are used to seeing.”
Board member Lucas Espericueta said he felt like the board was giving up too soon. He said even a smaller fair, one that splits the fairgrounds between buildings used for vaccinations and those used by the fair, would bring the community together.
“To my knowledge, there’s never been any (COVID-19) transmission outside and everything will be held outside,” he said.
But David A. Torres, another board member and veteran criminal defense attorney, said the board would likely have to deal with multiple legal issues if it tried to hold the fair. He said the state could shut it down if COVID-19 rates begin to surge again.
The board will continue to move forward with an in-person livestock show this year.