Fair Midway Overhead

Image courtesy Kentucky State Fair.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kentucky State Fair Board is taking the first steps toward a state fair in August that resembles those held before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board voted unanimously Thursday to start planning a fair later this summer modeled after the 2019 event, the last before the coronavirus era. The fair is tentatively scheduled from Aug. 19-29.

“I don't know that any of us actually believe we'll be 100% wide-open by state fair,” said Dr. Mark Lynn, the fair board’s chairman. “But if we plan for it, it's easier to make it smaller than bigger.”

Last year’s fair was closed to the general public, although participants in livestock and other competitions were allowed. There were no food vendors or entertainers.

Thursday’s vote comes as Gov. Andy Beshear has begun easing some restrictions on large gatherings across the state as more Kentuckians receive COVID-19 vaccines. New guidance released on Monday lets events with more than 1,000 people operate at 50 percent capacity; mask and social distancing policies still apply.

None of Beshear’s appointees to the fair board objected to the 2021 fair proposal, which was approved by a voice vote. Specific plans would be crafted in the coming months.

Fair officials said they would work with horse industry groups to comply with any COVID-19 guidelines for the World’s Championship Horse Show at Freedom Hall.

It was the first full meeting since members of the board sued each other over a reorganization approved by the Kentucky legislature last month. Mike Berry, Kentucky’s tourism secretary, joined Beshear in a lawsuit against board members Ryan Quarles; the state agriculture commissioner, and Lynn, the newly elected chairman. Also named in the suit are House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers.

Addressing the “big elephant in the room,” Lynn said the board would simply continue to do its work.

“We have complete faith in our legislative system. We have faith in our legal system, and we’re going to just let those handle themselves,” he said.

“This won’t be a place for comment, question, arguing – any of that. We’re going to do fair board business and try to keep it as such.”

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