No crowds, rides at Arkansas State Fair due to COVID-19
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A scaled-back version of the Arkansas State Fair, without crowds, rides and concerts, was held this weekend as the event’s size was significantly reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mainly junior livestock competitions were scheduled to run until next weekend during this year’s fair after organizers announced in July that a large-scale fair would be canceled due to the pandemic, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
On Saturday afternoon, children who participated in a junior livestock showing of wether dam goats led their animals around a barn as family members and friends watched. A masked judge evaluated the goats.
Many staff members and attendees appeared to comply with the event’s face-covering requirement, but some did not.
“It’s a lot slower, smaller ... definitely a lot less people, not as many spectators and visitors,” said Tim Efird, 58, of Mount Ida, who was at the event with his 13 and 14-year-old daughters. The girls showed two goats during the competitions.
A “Taste of the Fair” portion of the event featuring food vendors will be held next weekend, with a capacity restriction of 500 people and all food packaged in to-go containers.
The pageant portion of the fair is scheduled to take place Oct. 24, when winners of various divisions of the pageant competition, including Miss Arkansas State Fair Queen, will be crowned in a Facebook Live broadcast.
The Arkansas Livestock Show Association, which produces the annual event, said it would focus on resuming a full-scale fair in October 2021. The fair draws on average more than 450,000 visitors a year.
The state health department on Sunday reported 644 new virus cases for a total of 99,066 confirmed and probable cases, up from 98,422 reported Saturday. There were 1,704 deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, an increase of 20. There were 572 people hospitalized with the virus, down four from Saturday.
The actual number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.