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King City
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July 5, 2020

2020 Salinas Valley Fair canceled over COVID-19 concerns

Online auction of 4-H, FFA animals being considered

KING CITY — Salinas Valley Fair Board of Directors has voted unanimously to cancel the 76th Annual Salinas Valley Fair scheduled for May 14 to 17 in King City, citing California’s shelter-in-place travel restrictions and health concerns related to the spread of COVID-19.

The board’s decision was reached following a two-part special meeting on April 8 and 9 to discuss the cancellation. This is only the second time in the fair’s history that the event has been canceled since it first began in 1941 and was placed on a four-year hiatus from 1942 through 1945 during World War II.

“It is with a heavy heart and with the safety of our community in mind that we have come to this decision,” said Margaret Noroian, president of the Salinas Valley Fair Board.

Organizers are exploring an online sale of 4-H and FFA animal projects, of which more than 1,000 members had already entered this year’s fair. The Junior Livestock Auction is one of the largest in the state and attracts youth from Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and San Benito counties every year.

The board gave direction to Salinas Valley Fair CEO TJ Plew to review with volunteers and contractors on ways to conduct events and activities leading up to a future fair, while remaining within the guidelines of social distancing. This might take the form of an online contest or competitions.

“We’re hoping to have a plan available by Friday to present to our board,” Plew said.

She explained that any decision made by the board could be announced by April 20.

“We’re seeing what we can do to continue with those traditions of celebrating people’s artistic talents, culinary talents and school projects,” Plew said. “We’re actively seeking ideas for competitions.”

Entertainment is part of the tradition at the annual celebration, with the fairgrounds hosting comedians, jugglers, magicians and musicians.

Plew said the fair is looking into the idea of Facebook page “takeovers,” where an entertainer controls the fair page for a day in order to perform for followers. Those plans are in the works and will be presented to the board on April 17.

“We’re coming up with ways to engage our community,” Plew said.

Noroian added, “The Salinas Valley Fair is committed to providing a solution for our livestock exhibitors. As soon as this information is available, we will send out an update through email and our social media platforms.”

Tuesday night, the livestock committee proposed options to the board, but a decision was too late for press time. Online auctions were being looked into, but all plans are undergoing fine-tuning.

As staff and volunteers finish plans for future activities, the fairgrounds itself has pivoted to serve as a community resource for businesses, nonprofits and government agencies to respond to COVID-19.

Monterey County Food Bank has started a weekly distribution of food at the fairgrounds in King City. The first drive-through distribution took place April 8 and served more than 500 families.

“We are looking to see how we can serve during this time,” Plew said.

Whether it is providing space and staff to make a food distribution possible, or facilitating space to assist a business with response operations, the fairgrounds is reviewing the different ways it can help the community.

“Nothing has been solidified, but we’ll be here if needed,” Plew said. “We will see how we can best meet the needs of our community.”

For now, the fairgrounds is in “wait and see mode,” according to Plew.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we come together to make this difficult decision,” Noroian said. “We share the disappointment and sadness this news brings with all of you — we know how hard all stakeholders work to be a special part of our community’s fair. These are unchartered waters for our community, and we remain here to answer any questions you might have.”

For those with questions about refunds for canceled competitions, advance tickets, parking, trailer reservations and vendor deposits, or any other questions, the fairgrounds can be reached at [email protected] or 831-385-3243.

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KING CITY — Salinas Valley Fair Board of Directors has voted unanimously to cancel the 76th Annual Salinas Valley Fair scheduled for May 14-17, citing California’s shelter-in-place travel restrictions and health concerns related to the transmission of COVID-19.

“It is with a heavy heart and with the safety of our community in mind that we have come to this decision,” said Margaret Noroian, president of the Salinas Valley Fair Board.

Organizers are exploring an online sale of 4-H and FFA animal projects, of which more than 1,000 members had already entered this year’s fair. 

“The Salinas Valley Fair is committed to providing a solution for our livestock exhibitors. As soon as this information is available, we will send out an update through email and our social media platforms,” Noroian said.

An announcement regarding refunds for canceled competitions, advance tickets, parking, trailer reservations and vendor deposits will be made Monday, April 13.

Sean Roney
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler, Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.
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