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COVID-19 pandemic shutters State Fair of Virginia, Sunbelt Ag Expo
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COVID-19 pandemic shutters State Fair of Virginia, Sunbelt Ag Expo

The Virginia Farm Bureau board of directors announced July 23 the decision to cancel the 2020 State Fair of Virginia. The fair, which was scheduled for Sept. 25 through Oct. 4, will not take place due to complications associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was a difficult decision, but safety is our number one priority,” said Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director. “We’ve spent months developing plans and scenarios that would allow us to still host the fair this year, but with the ever-changing, unpredictable COVID-19 situation, we just couldn’t make it work.”

The State Fair of Virginia is an annual event that nurtures, preserves and celebrates the best of Virginia’s past, present and future through scholarship initiatives, creative programming and a focus on the commonwealth’s agriculture and natural resources industries. In 2019, nearly 245,000 people attended the State Fair at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County.

To fulfill the fair’s mission of supporting agriculture and youth, fair staff are working with Virginia Cooperative Extension employees to hold a modified State Fair 4-H Livestock Show in October.

Virginia Farm Bureau President Wayne F. Pryor said honoring and recognizing the hard work and dedication of youth participants in agriculture was the board of directors’ top priority.

“While a modified State Fair 4-H Livestock show is not ideal, we believe it will allow our youth to showcase the yearlong effort they’ve put into raising their animals, and enable them to earn scholarship money as well,” Pryor said.

Finalized details for the livestock show will be announced at a later date, and more information about the fair’s cancellation can be found at statefairofvirginia.org.

The 2021 State Fair of Virginia is scheduled to take place Sept. 24 through Oct. 3.

Sunbelt Ag Expo canceled

Elsewhere, the cancellation of the 43rd Annual Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., was announced July 24. The event was scheduled to be held Oct. 20-22, and the cancellation is the first in the Expo’s history.

While the Expo staff have worked diligently to put together an action plan that would enable a safe and successful show, “it has become abundantly clear that we must change course,” said Chip Blalock, the event’s executive director. “Unfortunately, we simply cannot safely blend networking, commerce and education while representing the rich history of the Sunbelt Ag Expo.”

A press release indicated the Sunbelt Ag Expo would return Oct. 19-21, 2021. For more information, visit sunbeltexpo.com.

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