Fair to Hold ‘Modified Event’ This Year; Farm-City Pro Rodeo Canceled

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The Umatilla County Fair as we know it will not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the Farm-City Pro Rodeo has been canceled outright.

Angie McNalley, Umatilla County Fair coordinator, said the fair will hold “a modified event” this August, using technology to showcase local youth exhibits.

Brown announced that large gatherings, including live sporting events with audiences, concerts, festivals and conventions, will not be able to return until there is a reliable treatment or prevention, like a vaccine and that large events through September should be canceled or significantly modified.

As a result, the fair board made the decision to cancel the fair’s regular concerts, contests, carnival, parade and other activities until 2021.

“First and foremost, we must keep the public safe and follow the orders set forth by the Governor’s office,” said McNalley.

She said a fair subcommittee has been formed to work out logistics and plan the event for this August, creating a platform for the youth of Umatilla County to “exhibit” their projects and to show or sell their market animals.

“We will plan a modified 4-H and FFA market animal show and auction using available technology to ensure compliance with the Governor’s orders,” said McNalley.

With the announcement of the May 7 orders, the Fair Board based their decision on the following considerations:

  1. Umatilla County has applied for a Phase 1 reopening which would allow for groups of up to 25 people to convene. The Oregon Health Association is in receipt of the county’s plan. Approval is pending.
  2. If approved, the county must remain in Phase 1 for 21 days before a re-evaluation can occur to determine if the requirements have been met to issue a Phase 2 reopening which at this time, will tentatively only allow for groups of up to 100 to convene.
  3. A Phase 3 reopening plan for the highest risk activities (larger events), will require the availability of a reliable treatment or vaccine.
  4. At any time during Phase 1 or Phase 2, if the “Covid climate” worsens in Umatilla County, the reopening plan is at risk of revocation and reimplementation of tighter restrictions.

McNalley said the Fair Board is working with 4-H and FFA (locally and at the state level), the Umatilla County Commissioners, the Umatilla County Fair Sale Committee, parents, volunteers, the Farm City Pro Rodeo, the city of Hermiston and Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center, and is listening to any and all input from other groups postponing, canceling or modifying their summer events.

“The Oregon Fairs Association has hosted weekly conference calls which have proven invaluable in keeping the flow of communication open and accurate across the state,” she said.

McNalley said she and the board hope that the fair sponsors stick with them during the current challenge.

“Our communities have never been short on offering support for local youth events,” she said. “The Umatilla County Fair Board feels that its responsibilities lay first and foremost with our kids and to support ag in our region. To do that, we ask that our sponsors continue to donate and to support our endeavors even though their 2020 sponsorship perks will look much different than what they have grown accustomed to as fair sponsors.

“The Fair needs to sustain financially. We need to be able to maintain our budget through the end of our fiscal year. Without our sponsor support, it cannot happen. A few of our larger sponsors have unfortunately had to back out due to required cutbacks. Our hope is that we succeed in convincing the decision makers that the County Fair still needs them for 2020 and to begin the 2021 season given these new hurdles.”

McNalley also asked for patience and support of the local community.

“The August event cannot happen without the continued unification of our communities and the necessary support from our loyal sponsors,” she said. “Our thoughts are with those who have been affected physically, emotionally and/or financially by this pandemic and hope that those who still can, will rally together in support of one another and in support of our local businesses and the organizations that need help. It is vital that we remain united and climb this hill together.”