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Warren County A&L Fair joins long list of the region's fair cancellations

By: James Clark -- Editor for the Southern Standard

It was announced on Monday the Warren County A&L Fair is cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

From left, Nicholas O’Hara, Kal-el Boyle and James Hines enjoyed playing the carnival games during last year's Warren County A&L Fair. However, they will be unable to do so due to the cancellation of the fair this year.

So much for candy-apple fun.

A decision that had been feared was made official Monday night when the Warren County A& L Fair announced there will not be a fair this year.

“No one looks forward to the fair more than the Fair Board so this was a difficult decision for all of us to make,” said fair president Regan Kelsey in an interview with the Standard on Tuesday. “In making this decision, I asked members of the board two questions: Can we follow all the guidelines that have been set forth by the state? And can we do that and produce a fair that’s in line with what we’ve been doing since 1954? When we asked those two questions, the answer across the board was no.”

Kelsey said the fair, in its entirety, has been canceled. Comments have surfaced about just having certain events, like Fairest of the Fair, but Kelsey says this will not happen.

“We’re not going to pick and choose and have certain events related to the fair,” said Kelsey. “Liability is liability and it’s not going to lessen if we just have a few events. We decided if we couldn’t produce a full fledged fair at the level we normally do, we weren’t going to do it at all.”

Kelsey said participation would have almost certainly been lower had the decision been made to have a fair. He said the food booths, for example, would have been forced to follow much more stringent requirements and many would have likely been closed as a result.

While the fair is considered an event for the community, Kelsey said local residents should remember the Fair Board must make business decisions. He said the fair’s insurance provider had already claimed no COVID-related cases would be covered, essentially leaving the fair in the middle of a river without a paddle.

“It doesn’t matter what your thoughts are about this virus and I know there are opinions all over the board,” said Kelsey. “But what’s not made up are lawyers and lawsuits. One lawsuit could have wiped out the fair for years to come. No one on our board was willing to take the risk and make a decision that would jeopardize our fair."

With the decision, Warren County joins a long list of communities which have canceled their county fairs this year. The Tennessee State Fair in Nashville has also been canceled.

“This is not the outcome that any of us hoped for,” said Kelsey. “We share in your disappointment, but rest assured that we did not reach this decision lightly.” Kelsey added that he realizes the cancellation will be an economic blow to many nonprofit organizations that rely on the fair as their biggest fundraiser of the year. He said he hates to think about the negative impact this decision will have, but it was the only logical decision that could be made with the well-being of the fair in mind.

In closing, Kelsey said, “Please know that we have every intention of returning in 2021 and are looking forward to the day when it is once again fair time in Warren County.”

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