The 2020 Jefferson County 4-H Fair is the latest event to fall casualty to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jefferson County Fair Board President Scott Hubbard announced on Wednesday.

Citing the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic hardships in the livestock industry, Hubbard issued a release that the decision to cancel the event for the first time in its 60-plus-year history was “an extremely difficult decision due to the impact it has on our youth and community.”

Hubbard said “4-H in Jefferson County has had tremendous support and success over the years. We hate that our youth will not be able to have an on-site event this year. We are also sad for the non-profits, merchants, and community that look forward to the fair and have supported us over the years. We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2021 Jefferson County 4H Fair.”

The fair follows the Madison Regatta as the two biggest local events canceled due to the pandemic after organizers of both spent months struggling with how to safely host such crowd-intensive events. Livestock producers were a major factor in the 4-H decision, Hubbard said, since many in the county are unable to find buyers or have had to settle for depressed prices.

As for fair competitions, most will be shifted online and judged based on pictures submitted by each contestant. Other programs, like the dog show, may not find an alternative this year, Hubbard said.

Losing the fair is a substantial financial hit for 4-H. The fair generates about 70% of all 4-H income for the year and draws the largest community involvement out of any event, Hubbard said.

The cancellation is also bad news for the vendors and local clubs and non-profits that set up shop at the fairgrounds every summer for what is a major fundraising opportunity. The Jefferson County 4-H’s Fair’s traditional carnival company, Poor Jack, was supposed to make its first stop of the year in Jefferson County, Hubbard said.

On top of that, the community will miss out on a social event that’s brought locals of different interests together and given something for area youth to do in the middle of the summer.

“The fair is a very intricate, integrated, complicated event with a lot of parts that go together, and so when one part starts to disappear you lose all of that,” Hubbard said. “I can remember as a teenager growing up and looking forward to the fair every year, going out to socialize and see everybody for a week. I think a lot of our community has grown up with that as an opportunity … that aspect just won’t be there.