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The Hardin County Fair, like many other fairs and festivals, will look very different this year. The fair's governing board announced Wednesday evening that this year's event will be a "youth exhibitor fair" only, canceling entertainment and closing the fair's gates to all but 4-H and FFA members, their immediate families and approved volunteers.

The changes are being made to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While many shops, restaurants, government offices and other establishments have been allowed to open for business, health officials still warn that COVID-19 is circulating within Iowa and Hardin County, and the public should take precautions to protect themselves and others from the disease. That includes social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing a face mask.

The Franklin County Fair announced last week that it was canceling all but its youth exhibitions, and the Hardin County Fair is following suit, according to a press release distributed Wednesday evening.

"The safety and health of exhibitors, volunteers, staff, visitors, community partners and vendors is our number one concern,” Dale Jass, Hardin County Fair Board president, is quoted as saying in the press release.

According to the press release, the Hardin County Fair and Hardin County ISU Extension are working together to finalize a "modified fair experience that will provide opportunities for 4-H and FFA members to showcase their learning, and to receive evaluation and recognition." The press release states that all livestock will be shown in an abbreviated format on a daily basis. The fair will still include non-livestock/static exhibits, livestock projects and a queen coronation. Details will be released as they're finalized.

This year's fair will be July 8-12. The entertainment lineup was to include the Tank Anthony Band, Neil Hewitt, Angela Meyer, demo and trailer races, Easter Central Iowa Pullers Association, Rogue Rodeo and Figure 8 races.

The Hardin County Fair Association and Hardin County ISU Extension worked with Hardin County Emergency Management, the Hardin County Board of Supervisors and other stakeholders to make the decision. They report that the fair will be in contact with vendors and sponsors in coming weeks.

Find more information on the Hardin County Fair's Facebook page and website.

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