ALEXANDRIA — This July, there will be no elephant ears and no lemonade shake-ups.
No Tilt-A-Whirls and no Ferris wheels.
No chances to win a stuffed animal or cheap trinket.
No barns full of farm animals. And no country music crooners on stage.
This July, there will be no Madison County Fair.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Alexandria Kiwanis Club chose to cancel the fair because of the coronavirus crisis.
“It is a gut wrenching decision, but when it was decided the vote was unanimous,” read an official statement from the group.
The fair was canceled once before, 71 years ago in response to the polio virus, according to fair officials.
“When you really find the true value of something is when you can’t do it, or when it goes away,” said Brian Donahue, president of the Alexandria Kiwanis.
While the fair food, rides, vendors and live stage won’t be happening this year, 4-H’ers might still get to exhibit their animals in a live format.
Purdue Extension announced last Friday that live fairs could happen in the month of July. The announcement came with several conditions that would have to be met.
Requirements include maintaining social distancing, masks, disinfection, providing hand sanitizer, registration of each attendee including name and phone number, no livestock staying overnight and airborne illness liability insurance.
The county would also have be in Stage 5 of Indiana’s Back on Track plan for reopening as COVID-19 cases decline.
The local 4-H board has formed multiple committees to study the requirements and the possibility of holding in-person project evaluations or instead holding a virtual fair were 4-H’ers would submit videos of their project.
Madison County Extension Director and Educator Gary Simmons said a decision would be made by May 29.
Like other 4-H’ers, Frankton senior and 10-year member Kolby Mauck continues to work with his animals.
“I just keep working, because that’s what 4-H’ers do,” Mauck said. “We’re taught to work, we’re taught to not give up and there’s always hope and that we have to keep going.”
Mauck has served on the Madison County Extension Board for the past three years as a junior leader representative. In that role, he is involved in the effort to develop in-person evaluation of 4-H projects.
“The 4-H association board is doing everything we can to do that,” Mauck said. “But there’s a lot of guidelines you have to work through and a lot of logistics we have to figure out.”
E-learning has afforded 4-H’er Kendall Leonhard, a sophomore at Eastern Hancock, more time to work on the family farm. He shows beef and currently has three heifers he’s been grooming for the Madison County 4-H Fair.
He hopes a live show will be conducted but also recognizes it might not happen.
“During this time, you just gotta focus on yourself and get better,” he said.
After the fair was canceled in 1949 because of polio, it returned to Alexandria the next year.
“This will give us a year to retool and rethink, and if anybody would like to help with Kiwanis Club, we sure could use some help,” Donahue said. “We will be here next year.”