Cullman County Fair will go on

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The Cullman County Fair is scheduled for Oct. 8-17 at the Cullman County Fairgrounds. (Cullman Tribune file photo)

CULLMAN, Ala. – One of Cullman County’s most anticipated annual events will take place (as of now) despite the threat of COVID-19. The Cullman County Fair is scheduled for Oct. 8-17. The Cullman County Fair Parade is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 3, pending approval of the permit from the Cullman City Council.

Cullman County Fair Association President and Cullman Lion Charlie Childers discussed the changes visitors can expect at this year’s fair and what will remain the same.

One of the biggest changes is the cancellation of Senior Day at the fair.

Childers explained, “We just felt like and (sic) Comfort (Care), that sponsors it, just felt that it was just the best thing to do. We will try to have it again next year.”

The fair will follow the specific health guidelines from the State of Alabama and City of Cullman at the time of the event and will request guests also adhere to those guidelines.

“Our group, Kissel Entertainment, is operating right now and having fairs in Alabama,” said Childers. “They will have some boards up talking about social distancing. It’s going to be each individual’s decision whether or not they can come or need to come. Otherwise, come next year if you don’t feel like you should venture out and come to the fair this year.”

He continued, “There’s people who know they don’t need to get out. If they aren’t going to Wal-Mart and they aren’t going places, they probably don’t need to go to the fair. If you are going to Wal-Mart and all the other places like you normally do and you feel comfortable with that, then we want to have that opportunity for those people to get out and enjoy those activities. We will be asking people for help with social distancing when they are standing in line. Masks- we are asking you to wear masks. If it is mandated to wear masks, we are going to ask you to wear masks if that’s still on in October.”

Childers said Kissel will provide additional sanitizing stations while the workers will wipe down each ride after a rider exits. There will be buckets of wipes for guests to use for additional sanitizing when entering and exiting rides and attractions.

”Kissel has worked hard with the State of Alabama to be open and have their carnivals,” he said. “Our carnival group will be in Huntsville at the Trash Panda’s field starting Aug. 20.”

Childers said additional precautions will be taken by Kissel, the Lions Club and other volunteers. They will take temperatures of workers and volunteers as they come in, but there is no plan to take guest’s temperatures at the gate. Visitors are asked not to attend if they are sick.

“We are not forcing anybody to come. All of our volunteers have been given the choice and have not been required or pressured to be here,” he said. “That is something we are working through right now is having enough volunteers to have it because we know a lot of our volunteers are the more susceptible group and we are telling them, ‘Look, if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t come.’ We are continuing to look for more volunteers that are able to come help us.”

There are several other changes the Fair Association has made to minimize the risks of COVID-19.

Childers said, “We aren’t going to have any baked goods this year. We are limiting each individual exhibitor to three entries. We have a King and Queen of the Kitchen and they all bring 30-50 items sometimes. That’s just too many people standing in line trying to get those registered in. We are limiting it to three items per person, however they want to enter them, in our exhibits and agriculture department.”

Art and photography projects will also be limited to three entries per person.

Another change is the kids’ pumpkin contest. In the past, kids brought their pumpkins on Student Day at the fair. This year, kids can turn them in, like any other exhibit, on the days leading up to the fair.

The pageants are still scheduled to take place, and while seating will not be a concern for the smaller pageants, adjustments will be made for the Fair Queen Pageant. The Cullman Tribune will be live-streaming the pageants for those who prefer to watch them from home.

Said Childers, “Each Fair Queen will each get so-many seats and they will pass those out for seating (in) the theater.”

Activities and events for the livestock barn and arena are scheduled as normal. Peinhardt Farms will bring animals for the guest petting zoo and will adhere to the health guidelines in place at the time of the fair.

In the off season, the Cullman Lions Club has made some improvements that will also make adhering to guidelines easier. The concession stand has been completely renovated. They will no longer serve fountain drinks, but will serve bottled drinks instead. They are also working toward accepting credit cards at the entrance gates and the addition of more entry points to help keep lines smaller.

The Lions Club still plans to have the Fair Parade. It has submitted approval for a parade permit to the Cullman City Council. If approved, the parade is scheduled for Oct. 3.

“Right now, we know the mandates can change on Sept. 1, and if the State of Alabama says we can’t have it, we will follow those rules. We aren’t going to violate the rules,” Childers said.

“I went up and visited Kissel in Florence and they had a good crowd there and they actually said that they have seen their attendance better than it has been in the past at the same location the previous year,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything- issues or concerns- coming from those. Probably, just expect some delays and a little longer lines getting on a ride because of the cleaning. It might not be as crowded as it normally is, but there are plenty of times that the fair is not crowded. If you want to come to the fair and do the all-days Friday and Saturday, during the day during the weekends and nights during the week, it’s not as crowded and you can easily social distance,” Childers explained

All-in-One Pass sales begin Sept. 15 at Peoples Bank locations. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. More information and the full fair schedule can be found at www.cullmanfair.org.

All proceeds from the fair go to the Cullman Lions Club.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com