Kentucky Exposition Center.  Image courtesy Kentucky Venues. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky State Fair is still planning a full-scale event despite concerns about the Delta variant. But unless circumstances change before the Aug. 19 opening day, those attending the fair will be required to wear mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

The Kentucky Exposition Center is state property and must comply with a directive issued last week requiring masks inside state buildings.

“Anyone entering the buildings, since we are a state facility, masks are required," Kentucky Venues President & CEO David Beck said.

The mask mandate will also apply to this weekend’s Street Rod Nationals, one of the Expo Center’s biggest shows of the year. Few of the vendors were wearing masks as they set up for the show. Travis Scanlon of Affordable Street Rods in Kansas said he was not aware of the requirement.

“I've got it ready here if I have to put it on,” he said. “We've haven’t heard it from them yet.”

Beck said Kentucky Venues is still trying to get the word out to everyone. He said there is some confusion, because masking may not be required at local hotels and other private venues, while it is mandated inside state buildings.

“(We are) making sure they understand that this is a state property and that it is a state requirement for all state office buildings," Beck said. "So we have to communicate that."

Signs with the new rules have been posted at the gates, at the doors and on the State Fair website.

“We can have a good state fair and still require masks,” Beck said.

But he is concerned that the mandate will affect attendance.

“Sure, any kind of compliance can always affect participation and we recognize that," Beck said. "But I think the key to that is people knowing well in advance.”

Scanlon said he is also worried that the mask requirement will cause some potential customers to stay outdoors.

“... that will keep them from coming inside this building for sure, and that actually could affect our sales,” he said. “We're a little worried about that.”

But Scanlon said he will comply with the rules.

“We'll do whatever is required of us,” he said.

Beck hopes others have the same attitude, because Kentucky Venues has no authority to enforce the mandate.

“Our people aren't trained and empowered to do that at this point in time,” he said.

Beck said plans are in the works to offer the vaccine at the Kentucky State Fair, but details have not been finalized. 

The 2020 Kentucky State Fair was closed to the general public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning only those participating in livestock, equestrian and other competitions were allowed in, and there were no vendors or entertainers.

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