This year’s Shenandoah County Fair has been canceled, the fair association board announced on Thursday.

The decision was made to abide by state restrictions about meeting in large groups during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tom Eshelman, general manager of the Shenandoah County Fair Association.

“Basically, we see no upcoming changes anytime soon,” Eshelman said.

Though most fair events have been canceled, a condensed version of the 4-H/FFA Livestock Show and Sale will go on as planned.

After holding off on a decision about the fair until the July 4 holiday weekend, Eshelman said fair officials couldn’t wait any longer on Gov. Ralph Northam’s next announcement about whether Virginia will move forward with reopening plans.

“Unfortunately, our window of opportunity has closed and we are regrettably having to cancel the fair,” Allen Gochenour, president of the Shenandoah County Fair Association, states in a news release.

“We kept our fingers crossed that the Governor could ease the rules of the number of folks that could be on our grounds. We now face the reality that there will be no easing of the 1,000 person rule anytime soon.”

The restrictions note that concert venues, fairs and carnivals “may operate with occupancy limited to 50% of the occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or a maximum of 1,000 patrons, whichever is less, while maintaining 10 feet of distance between persons not from the same household,” the release states.

It’s a hard choice, Eshelman said on Thursday.

By waiting, he said, “You’re probably hoping for something that’s not going to happen. [Officials are] just facing facts that you can’t put on a fair with less than 1,000 people.”

Many other county fairs around the region have been canceled. In June, Shenandoah announced it was canceling its concert schedule.

In addition to public safety, Eshelman said fair officials considered the welfare of vendors, fair workers and volunteers if they waited any longer to make a decision.

“These are folks who live in your County and volunteer each year to put on a great family event,” he states in the release. “Communities should applaud the efforts of everyone helping to put on their County Fair.”

The fair has refunded those who purchased concert tickets and will begin refunding all motorsports and fair admission tickets next week, the release states.

A schedule of 4-H/FFA events will be released in the coming days. For more information, call the Shenandoah County Extension office at 540-459-6140.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com