ADRIAN — The 181st installment of Michigan's longest running fair will have to wait until next year.
The Lenawee Agriculture Society voted Thursday to cancel this year's Lenawee County Fair.
Board president Mark Ruttkofsky said with stay-at-home orders extended until the end of the month, it was time to make the decision no one wanted to make.
Many of the fair's vendors are still closed, including the producer of the 4-H ribbons.
"It was the roughest decision we had to make in that board," Ruttkofsky said. "We put it off for as long as we could."
A lot of planning goes into pulling off fair week each summer. For example, livestock judges are booked in January and February.
"It takes 51 weeks to pull it all together," said Janelle Stewart, Michigan State University Extension educator.
Ruttkofsky said the fair board did not want to be responsible for any COVID-19 cases that could arise given the number of people who visit during fair week.
"It's all for well-being," he said. "We're concerned for our community."
That doesn't mean there won't be any county fair, though.
MSU Extension and the fair board are working together to organize a virtual fair. It's a way to give 4-H kids the fair experience from a safe distance.
This includes virtual judging for projects and animals.
"They will still have an experience and have an opportunity to showcase their animals and projects," Stewart said.
There are also plans to have the queen pageant and livestock auction virtually. Stewart said there could be some value added to a livestock auction which would provide a source of locally raised meat given current food insecurities.
"We are working hard about what a livestock auction would look like," she said.
Ruttkofsky said work will begin on the virtual fair next week. There is no timetable yet for when events might be held.
"We're going to continue be strong partners in the virtual fair and future fairs," Stewart said of MSU Extension.
The next Lenawee County Fair is scheduled for July 25-31, 2021.