Barnstable County Fair Organizers Disappointed by Cancellation

FALMOUTH – Organizers of the Barnstable County Fair are disappointed that they will not be able to host the fair this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but are turning their attention towards future events.

The fair, held since 1844 and originally scheduled to run from July 28-29 this year, was cancelled in accordance with the Town of Falmouth’s mandate which cancels all events through August 31.

“When they had their mandate come down of no events in Falmouth until September 1, it certainly didn’t surprise us. I don’t envy anybody that has to make these decisions right now. It’s very tough,” said Fair Manager Wendy Brown.  

“It also affects a lot of other events. We’ve cancelled every event on the grounds in May, June, July, and August. We’ll see what September brings, and that’s kind of what we’re concentrating on now.”

Brown said that the cancellation will take a big chunk of annual revenue out of their budget.

“For us it’s 90% of our annual revenue, so that’s kind of a big hit with no way to make that up. We are hoping we can get some fall events, but thus far we’ve already had the dog show cancelled in September, also.”

Brown said that this year not the only time that organizers have had to cancel the fair.

War, a polio outbreak and severe weather have cancelled the Fair in the past, but Brown said that it is still a great disappointment for organizers.

“It’s not the first time in 176 years that we’ve had to cancel due to some of this, but in recent history it’s just heartbreaking. Heartbreaking for all of the fair-goers, heartbreaking for our staff, our board of directors. But, we have to err on what’s right for the public safety,” said Brown.

Proceeds from the Fair fund the upkeep of the Cape Cod Fairgrounds as well as over $30,000 worth of scholarships for Cape area students.

Brown said that the organizers will hold an executive board meeting this week to decide if they will honor existing scholarships, and that decisions on the matter will be up to the executive board moving forward.

“It’s a tricky situation with all scholarships right now, because we have kids that are going on that don’t have transcripts. We’re just trying to work through it to see what we can do to make sure that we can help these kids with further education.”

Fair organizers said that they have not yet made a decision on events that are scheduled for after August 31, but said that their choice will be made based on applicable town and state mandates.

“I’m sure they’re going to look at each event. Size, ability to be able to social distance. A big part of the Harvest Fest is the farmer’s market and stuff. The decision we have to make right now is what kinds of chances do we take putting money into an event with no clear understanding of what’s going to happen in October. If this thing is going to come around again,” said Brown.

Brown said that the Barnstable County Fair hopes to be back in 2021, stronger and better than before.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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