Showing animals at the Kimberton Fair

Pennsylvania’s Ag Department plans to play a supportive role as local fairs consider canceling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I personally am trying to respect individual fairs’ ability to make a decision that works for their community,” Ag Secretary Russell Redding said during a May 27 hearing of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Redding said fairs will have to consider whether their county is in the state’s red, yellow or green category for reopening, though even in the green phase, gatherings must stay under 250 people.

Fairs may also have contractual obligations that influence their decision, and they will need to weigh locals’ willingness to be out among groups of people after months of social distancing, Redding said.

Rep. Mark Keller, R-Landisburg, said he’s heard from numerous fair board members who are uncertain about how to proceed.

“I think they’re looking for some direction more than just, you know, social distancing,” Keller said.

Redding said he has asked fairs to have a plan for protecting attendees’ health and safety. And while he doesn’t want to be too prescriptive, he said the Ag Department is willing to share best practices it has received.

More than 20 of the states 100-plus fairs had canceled by the time of the hearing, Redding said.

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