WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION) Santa Cruz County residents will have to look for other ways to have fun this fall. The county fair has been scrapped this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There's 77 fairgrounds in California and at least 3/4s have announced the cancellation of their fairs," said David Kegebein, the Santa Cruz County Fair CEO. "There's no hope that by September, we're going to be able to put on that kind of a public event."
Kegebein says the only time the fair has been cancelled at the fairgrounds in Watsonville is twice before -- both times during World War 2 in 1941 and '42. It takes a huge effort with hundreds of volunteers and community support.
"As I'm putting out the letter today announcing the cancellation, it's like looking at a funeral notice for your close family members," said Kegebein.
"So (the) fair not happening is like our grandaddy, big shebang of the year and we're not going to have it this year so we're hoping for 2021," said Julie Katawicz, the program rep for 4H Program in Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties.
Aside from being a fun family occasion, the fair is an opportunity for youth who raise livestock to participate in competitions and raise money.
Jocelyn Carkner and Maddie Stiger are best friends who both raise lambs together in the Quail Creek 4H program, where they learn responsibility, teamwork and finances.
"In the past we've had like some crazy ones, but this year, they're all around pretty good, they're really kind," said Carkner.
Fairs like the one in Santa Cruz County are their prime time to sine -- after all their hard work, both girls get to showcase their animals, compete with others and auction the lambs for a profit.
For youth who participate in the 4H program, fairs are a huge part of keeping their finances rolling. These girls raise and auction their lambs and put the money toward things like paying for college or buying a car.
They are depending on a good turnout, virtually in an online auction in September.
"We're really upset about it and sad because it gives us an opportunity to have more learning experiences," said Madison.
Limited events online also include art exhibitions.
The fair theme for 2021 has already been announced: it will be Pool Shades and Tractor Parades.
Organizers announced Wednesday morning that the 2020 Santa Cruz County Fair has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fair was originally planned for Sept. 16-20.
Fair organizers said they will continue to support junior livestock exhibitors by hosting a virtual online auction for their animals. They expect that about 95 animals will be available to buy.
They are also looking into potentially hosting a virtual exhibit for competitors who want to exhibit crafts.