WATSONVILLE—Organizers for the Santa Cruz County Fair say they are preparing for a complete in-person return of the annual event in September.
Carnival rides, livestock shows, floriculture, arts and crafts, the Agricultural History Project, food booths, the pumpkin contest and the apple pie contest—they’re all coming back from Sept. 15-19.
“It’s looking really good; we’re attempting to repeat the 2019 fair because it was spectacular and we are all looking to just skip over this Covid year and get back to our normal lives,” said County Fair manager Dave Kegebein. “I think we’re set to do everything we normally do. The food concessions, various exhibits, all the entries that we’ve taken in for many years, entertainment: We see it all getting ready to return.”
The fair was one of many county events that landed on a lengthy pandemic-related cancellation list, from parades and concerts to festivals and theater—for starters.
Fair organizers did, however, hold alternatives adjusted for the mask-wearing, social distancing, hand sanitizing world. That included the Holiday Lights drive-thru during Christmas, put on by the Fairgrounds Foundation and the Agricultural History Project, and the drive-thru Crab Feed. The fairgrounds also held two Fair Food drive-thrus.
The fairgrounds were also used on numerous occasions for Second Harvest Food distributions and were a major site for mass Covid-19 vaccinations, said Ron Haedicke, director of the Fairgrounds Foundation board and a fairgrounds volunteer.
“I just couldn’t be more excited that the fair is coming back,” Haedicke said. “It is the heartbeat of our community and it is the thing we wait for each fall. As the fairground’s friend Diane Cooley once said, ‘The fair is what unites our community and the fairgrounds is what brings people together.’ It’s like a giant family reunion.”
Kegebein added that if changes do arise because of rising Covid-19 cases, “We’ll just adjust.”
“But right now everybody is excited, the people that are involved with the fair are excited to make it all happen again,” he added.