WEST LAFAYETTE — Organizers of Indiana 4-H county fairs have been waiting for guidance on whether the fairs can take place this year. Friday, they got the go-ahead.
It came from Purdue Extension, which sets the rules for county fairs. The fairs can take place after Purdue University's restrictions on "face-to-face" events end on June 30. Now local organizers have the rest of May and June to plan their fairs in the face of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Purdue Extension will comply with all federal, state, and local regulations and public safety guidelines and will adhere to Purdue University policies for public health and safety,” said Jason Henderson, senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and director of Purdue Extension. “The Back on Track plan provides guidelines which will be followed to ensure the safety of our 4-H’ers, families, and communities.”
Purdue Extension prohibited face-to-face meetings and events in response to COVID-19 restrictions through June 30. During this time, extension 4-H educators and 4-H volunteers have offered virtual programming to protect the health and safety of youth and families.
County 4-H fairs may begin on July 4, if local health officials confirm the county has reached stage five in the Indiana Back on Track plan. Fairs must adhere to social distancing guidelines, screen employees and volunteers daily, disinfect high traffic areas and offer hand sanitizer and cleaning stations.
In some counties, a traditional fair may not be possible this year, due to financial limitations, PPE availability or other locally determined restrictions. For those counties, Purdue Extension has developed models for virtual 4-H fairs.
“We want to make sure we are doing everything possible to protect our 4-H’ers, their families and the community,” said Casey Mull, assistant director of extension and 4-H youth development program leader. “All 4-H youth who want to exhibit this summer will be able to through virtual or face-to-face mechanisms.”