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Umatilla County Fair moves to 'modified' event

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Barn stalls at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.

By the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Umatilla County Fair organizers said Thursday they plan to host a modified event that offers a platform for exhibits and the show and sale of market animals but no concerts, carnival or parade.

The latter will be postponed to 2021, Fair officials said in an announcement.

“First and foremost, we must keep the public safe and follow the orders set forth by the governor’s office,” Fair Coordinator Angie McNalley said in a prepared statement.

She said a Fair subcommittee has been formed to work out logistics and plan the event for this August.

“We will plan a modified 4-H and FFA market animal show and auction using available technology to ensure compliance with the governor’s orders,” she said.

McNalley explained that with the phased approach Gov. Kate Brown laid out on May 7, Umatilla County leaders are working to get approval to move quickly into the first phase of reopening, which would allow for crowds up to 25 people but would have to be reevaluated after 21 days.

After that, a second phase, allowing for groups of 100 to gather, would be implemented. The third phase, which would allow the larger events in the state to occur, would require the availability of a vaccine, McNalley wrote.

Also, at any time during the first two phases, the resurgence of COVID-19 could require re-implementation of restrictions.

McNalley said this chain of planning is what led the board to move in the direction of the modified event.

However, McNalley wrote, the fair needs sponsors in order to survive financially this year.

“We ask that our sponsors continue to donate and to support our endeavors even though their 2020 sponsorship perks will look much different than what they have grown accustomed to as fair sponsors,” she said.

“The Fair needs to sustain financially. We need to be able to maintain our budget through the end of our fiscal year. Without our sponsor support, it cannot happen.”

McNalley said a few larger sponsors have already had to pull out because of cutbacks in budgets.

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