GFB News Magazine

COVID-19 cancels Georgia fairs & Sunbelt Expo

Posted on September 4, 2020 12:00 AM

By Jennifer Whittaker

For the first time since the Georgia National Fair began in 1990, the event has been canceled.

The Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority (GAEA) made the decision to cancel the 2020 fair on  Aug.  12  after  determining that it would not be possible to host a fair that abides by Georgia and Centers for Disease Control safety recommendations for COVID-19.

“We have looked at every factor that plays a part in what makes the Georgia National Fair great. From the rides, vendors, concessionaires, live entertainment and concerts, it is nearly impossible to make our event safe for all members involved due to the recent COVID outbreak,” GAEA Chairman Foster  Rhodes  said  in a released statement. “We feel there is no “half-way” to producing a fair like what we are used to hosting, and because of that we have reached this unforeseen decision to cancel.”

Foster said the authority held off making a decision as  long as possible but could wait no longer because vendors need a  60-day window to plan for  the event that would have been held Oct. 8-18.

Many of the estimated 300 part-time employees that the fair hires every October informed fair  staff that they  would not  be able to work the event due to health  concerns, GNF  Executive  Director  Stephen Shimp said.

As of Aug. 14,  only five other states had not cancelled their  fairs  according to the International  Association of  Fairs  & Expositions. Many other fairs across Georgia have also been canceled. 

Sunbelt Expo cancels 2020 show

Shiny new equipment. Border Collies herding sheep. Tractors pulling trams of people past row crops being harvested. These are a few of Sunbelt Ag Expo’s offerings we won’t see this year.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sunbelt Board of Directors voted in July to cancel the 43rd annual show originally set for Oct. 20-22. This is the first time Expo will not be held since it began in 1978.

Sunbelt officials said the Expo staff worked diligently during the months leading up to the July decision to put together an action plan to enable a safe and successful show, but concluded that a safe blend of networking, commerce and education could not be done while maintaining the rich history of Expo. Additionally, the board’s decision to cancel the 2020 show was made out of concern for attendees’ and exhibitors’ expenses and need to plan.

Sunbelt asks its loyal attendees to follow its social media channels this fall as it continues promoting education and implementation of the latest ag technology, research and equipment.

The Sunbelt Ag Expo looks forward to greeting visitors again Oct. 19-21, 2021.