The Perry County Fair's streak of continuous fairs since 1856 will be broken in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has done what world wars, a Depression, natural disasters and even the influenza epidemic of 1918 could not do in the fair's 164-year history -- stop it from being held.
"After a great deal of discussion and consideration, the Perry County Fair Board has made the decision to cancel the 2020 fair," fair organizers posted on the fair's Facebook page. The fair is traditionally held at the fairgrounds in Pinckneyville.
"Due to our state's current executive order and 'Restore Illinois' plan, it's just not possible.
"This is NOT the outcome we were hoping for anyone -- our exhibitors and competitors, concessionaires, event promoters and vendors, and of course, our loyal spectators," the statement continues.
"We still hold hope to be able to offer some activities later in the year where we can gather as a community. At this time we still have our fall demolition derby on the calendar for Saturday, Oct. 3."
Organizers would not take follow-up calls to say how much money, if any, had already been invested in the 2020 fair, to have been held June 15-22.
With the loss of the fair comes the cancellation of 4-H livestock shows, projects and exhibits that are the staple of county fairs.
Heather Willis with Perry County 4-H and the local University of Illinois extension office said Wednesday that through Illinois 4-H, all general project and livestock shows and exhibitions scheduled through July 5 will move online to a virtual exhibition platform called FairEntry.
"The virtual exhibit is something that all youth can participate in," Willis said via email, adding Illinois 4-H selected an online platform that requires the least bandwidth and can be accessed by either a smartphone on a data plan with access to a browser or a laptop connected to the internet.
"For families who do not have access to any technology, our staff will do our best to identify solutions to ensure that all 4-H members who want to participate in the online exhibitions can do so," she added.
"While the fair looks different this year, our 4-H members are still very excited to showcase the projects that they have worked hard on throughout the year," Willis said, adding the students received project-specific guidelines about how to properly display their project to most effectively demonstrate their mastery of it.
For more details on FairEntry, visit https://4h.extension.illinois.edu/events/2020-4-h-summer-events.