This 4-H year has been like no other. October started off the normal, but little did we know the surprises that were quickly approaching. The first three months of 2020 whizzed by, but something was looming ahead in the month of March. A virus was spreading like wildfire throughout our country. By mid-march, President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency. Soon, the entire country went into lockdown, putting a temporary end to everything, including 4-H.
We are living in unsure times. We don’t know what the future holds for us. We are living in a global pandemic. There is one thing we do know. The Middlesex and New Haven County 4-H Fair Board must do what is best for its volunteers, both youth and adults, even if the decision is difficult. The Fair Leadership Committee has been meeting virtually to address concerns. We extended the deadline for our sponsorship campaign and our training meetings and discussed various plans, but there was always a question in the back of our minds- would we hold the 2020 fair? In order to help answer this question, the FLC sent out surveys for the youth and leaders.
UConn Extension charged all 4-H Fair Associations/Fair Boards to answer a list of nineteen questions. Many of these questions addressed health - both public and participant - financial, including insurance, and fairground availability. The Middlesex and New Haven County Fair Board set to work. The FLC met to distribute the questions among officers and mentors. After we received answers for the questions, the FLC reconvened to make a plan to go forward. Some of the FLC members mentioned presenting a series of virtual town hall meetings to update officers on plans to go forward and provide the officer with a chance to present their ideas and feedback.
These town hall meetings were run by myself and Vice President Carley. At the end of each meeting, we encouraged the officers and mentors to present their opinion - should we hold a fair or not? All of the mentors voted to not hold a fair, and almost all of the officers voted likewise. Additionally, the Durham Fair Association recently alerted us that they would not be allowing off-season rentals due to health and safety concerns. With heavy hearts, the Fair Board is canceling the 2020 Middlesex & New Haven County 4-H Fair. The youth will still have their projects evaluated. There will be more information to follow in the upcoming weeks regarding this. Carley and I thank you for your understanding. We hope everyone remains safe during these unsure times.