For the first time in 130 years and for the second time since the fair began in 1851, the St. Joseph County Grange Fair is canceled for 2020.

The St. Joseph County Grange Fair Board of Directors announced that they had voted to cancel this year's fair due to ongoing concerns over COVID-19 and said: "This decision was not made lightly."

Refunds are available for those who put deposits down or pre-paid for things associated with the event. Those seeking refunds should contact the fair office at 269-467-8935 by August 7, 2020. Alternately, money already paid can be transferred over for the 2021 fair. As for 4-H participants, fair officials plan to meet with Eva Beeker, St. Joseph County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator, to review options and establish a plan. St. Joseph County Grange Fair board president, Tom Miller, as well as board members say they will support what Beeker deems as the best course of action.

Grange Fair board president Miller talked with St. Joseph County’s emergency services director, Erin Goff, and Rebecca Burns from Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency, according to the Sturgis Journal. They said while they did not have the authority to tell the board what to do, they could not recommend holding the week-long event that draws on average 150,000 people.

Organizers say the cancelation will create a huge financial hit for the event. The 2020 fair was scheduled to take place Sept. 20-26. St. Joseph County was the second-to-last county in the state to cancel its fair. Washtenaw County Fair officials plan to meet July 16 to make their decision.

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