The 2020 Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock has been cancelled.
The board of directors for the Arkansas Livestock Show Association, which produces the fair, blamed the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s event was scheduled for October 16-25.
General Manager Doug White said the board voted to authorize the cancellation of the 2020 fair, while leaving the door open for a possible livestock show during that same 10 days in October.
“We have been closely monitoring COVID-19 data from local, state and federal health officials for the past few months, and we determined that it was in the best interest of the safety of our patrons, staff and our many sponsors to cancel this year’s fair,” said White.
“We always want to produce the best fair possible for the state of Arkansas and we felt we could not do that with the multitude of restrictions we would have to put in place.”
Board chair Bruce Maloch of Magnolia said the health and safety of all involved with the fair was the number one priority in the decision.
“We host well over 400,000 patrons every October and we want every single person to feel safe on our fairgrounds. Given the nature of a normal fair environment, we decided the most responsible decision we could make would be to take this year off and come back bigger and better than ever in 2021,” Maloch said.
White added that every possible scenario for holding the 2020 event was considered.
“Like all state fairs, we have food concessionaires, carnival rides and games on the midway, commercial exhibitors, livestock exhibitors and support staff. We considered every possible combination of what might work in this unprecedented time of COVID-19, and came to the conclusion that we could not host a traditional state fair based on the challenges inherent in large crowds.”
Maloch said although the board voted to cancel the midway carnival, food concessions, entertainment and commercial exhibits, it will continue to explore options for a livestock show.
“We’re extremely disappointed to cancel the 2020 event, but we still have hopes of hosting a junior livestock show in October. If we do work out a plan for a livestock show, of course, we’ll practice all safety protocols including mandatory masks, social distancing and hand-washing stations,” said Maloch.
The board chair said there is extreme optimism and enthusiasm as planning for the 2021 Arkansas State Fair begins.
“Our board and staff will have additional time to plan next year’s fair and that’s exciting. We’re motivated to organize the best Arkansas State Fair this state has ever seen. With the help of our wonderful corporate sponsors and business partners I know the 2021 fair will be an incredible event.”
The 2021 Arkansas State Fair is scheduled to run Friday, October 15, through Sunday, October 24, at the fairgrounds in Little Rock.
The Columbia County Fair and Livestock Show said earlier this week that at present, the 2020 fair will be held as scheduled in September.
The Southwest Region Fair in Hope, and the Four State Fair in TexARKana, have already been cancelled.