Boulder County Fair won’t open doors to public, plans virtual events
Due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, the 151st annual Boulder County Fair will be not be open to the public, with some remote events scheduled and others canceled altogether.
Fair organizers said in a Facebook post last week that they were “unable to host the fair in a safe environment for all of our fairgoers to enjoy.”
As a result, there will be no carnival, vendors or in-person entertainment. The annual Boulder County Fair parade, hosted by the Kiwanis Club, has also been canceled.
“The fair is a happy place and a social place and it’s hard to keep people apart when you come together for this much fun,” said Laura Boldt, the Boulder County Fair executive director. She said she believes this is the first time fair events have been canceled since the spread of polio in the early 1900s.
Instead of visitors numbering as many as 150,000 descending on the Boulder County Fairgrounds from July 31 to Aug. 9, those seeking a fair experience will have to turn to the digital world. Entertainment activities will be scheduled, though there will not be in-person entertainment events. A possible livestreamed virtual concert is among the potential activities. Photos and videos featuring rides and food from previous fairs will be shared on the fair’s website and social media platforms to let people experience the fair from a safe distance. Boldt encouraged people to check back on the fair’s website for updates at bouldercountyfair.org.
Youth will still get the chance to demonstrate their skills at 4-H and FFA youth livestock events. Boldt said fair organizers and partners are working with Boulder County Public Health to determine which events could be safe enough to host at the fairgrounds. A virtual model will be used for other competitions, with the kids submitting photos, videos or posters online to a panel of judges.
“We have committed to hold, at a minimum, an opportunity for our 4-H members to complete their projects virtually,” the Boulder County 4-H program said in a statement about the changes to the fair. “The livestock sale committee has committed to holding a virtual sale to help support the members and their animal projects. We will provide more information about specific 4-H events to the public as soon as they have been approved by the county (anticipated in early July).”
Those who planned on participating in this year’s fair expressed sadness, but said they get why the cancellation of many events was necessary to protect the community’s health.
Amber Nusser, a 17-year-old Niwot High School student, had been looking forward to her reign as 2020 Boulder County Fair Queen, and to demonstrating her riding skills with her horses Bill and Miley.
“I, of course, was very disappointed that we had to cancel the fair, especially because this was my year as queen,” Nusser said. “However, I totally understand and I’m glad we are keeping everyone safe.”
Nusser, a member of Boulder County 4-H for the past eight years, spent time every week working with her horses to prepare them for the 2020 fair. During the school year, she works with them at least two days a week. In the summer, she rides four to five days a week, spending at least an hour a day working with her horses. She will still get to demonstrate her skills in various horse shows through the fair, including Western, English and showmanship categories, but it will likely be through a virtual platform.
Nusser said she was grateful to the fair and its partners for giving youth an opportunity to show off their hard work, even if it’s from a distance. Still, she lamented that it won’t be the same experience.
“The fair is also about the friendship, creating memories and being able to communicate with others who share your passion, so, in that sense, it will be different,” Nusser said, “but I’m glad that we can have some semblance of a fair.”
Nusser said she looks forward to seeing her fair friends again next year and visiting the dairy bar to get her favorite treat: a chocolate mint, Oreo cookie milkshake.
Jaylyn Westenbroek, 17, said she was also looking forward to being at the fair. Westenbroek was crowned lady in waiting, the title awarded to the person who has been selected as the following year’s queen.
Amber Nusser, 2020 Boulder County Fair Queen, will not have the same routine as prior queens. The 17-year-old from Niwot had been hoping to show off her riding skills with her horse, Miley.
The Boulder County Fairgrounds won’t be welcoming 150,000 visitors this year because of the coronavirus outbreak.