BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Agricultural Society hopes to hold some kind of event to celebrate agriculture at the fairgrounds in Ballston Spa this summer, but what it will look like is unknown due to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, fair officials said Monday.
“Given the uncertainty of the vaccine rollout and the future of both state and local regulations, it is difficult for the Fair to commit to specific details of programs for summer 2021,” Agriculture Society President Tammy Ballestero said.
It would be the second year in a row without the traditional fair — the kind of event filled with thrill rides, vendors and food and other products, and crowds of 80,000 or more during the course of the week.
“While the full six-day event we are accustom to may not be happening, we very much what to do something,” Ballestero said.
Last summer’s fair was canceled entirely, as were the other county agriculture fairs across the Capital Region, state and nation, due to the unchecked spread of the novel coronavirus and a ban imposed statewide on public gatherings as part of the effort to stop viral spread. Instead, events were held online.
The Saratoga County Fair, traditionally among the first of the summer and one of the oldest county fairs in the state, had been scheduled for July 20 to 25. It was first held in 1841, and was canceled only once previously, during the Civil War.
A long weekend of events focused on agriculture and youth, probably during the week already set aside for the fair, is one of the possibilities.
“Please know it is our intention to hold an event that celebrates agriculture, particularly our youth, as we serve our community as a whole,” Ballestero said. “However, what the event will look like is unknown at this time. We appreciate the community’s patience and support as we work through the logistics of holding an event in light of the ongoing pandemic. And we look forward to fostering the fun, education and sense of togetherness that the fair has come to represent.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive orders have slowly started to allow for indoor and outdoor gatherings with a limited number of attendees, as the number of people vaccinated has grown. There is no indication, however, when restrictions will be lifted entirely, and many arts and performance organizations are assuming unlimited attendance will not be allowed this summer. There is also no indication when or if the state mandate for face coverings when out in public around other people will be lifted.
Whatever rules are in place this summer, Ballestero said public safety has to be the top priority; whatever events are held will be primarily outdoors.
For now, other agricultural fairs scheduled for later in the summer remain on the books.
The Washington County Fair remains scheduled for Aug. 23-29 at the fairground in Greenwich. The Fonda Fair, for Fulton and Montgomery counties, is slated for Sept. 1-6. The Schaghticoke Fair is planned for Sept. 1-6, but fair organizers note on its website that ticket sales will be online, and masks will be required for those attending. The Altamont Fair is scheduled for Aug. 17-22, but the fair website currently offers little other information. The New York State Fair in Syracuse, which was canceled last year for just the second time, is scheduled for Aug. 20-Sept. 6. The fairgrounds are currently being used as a mass vaccine distribution site.