COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the world. Not only does it threaten our health, it’s removed things we may have taken for granted. One is attending large gatherings. A northern Illinois county fair is the latest to feel the blow.
The 2020 Sandwich Fair has been canceled. This is the first time that’s happened since its inception in 1888. It's normally held Wednesday through Friday after Labor Day.
Nancy Rex is the secretary of the Sandwich Fair Association Incorporated. She said the association held out on canceling this year’s fair as long as they could.
Rex said the situation became all too clear at the end of June when Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Phase 4 plan was released. It prohibits gatherings of over 50 people.
“And we received a rather definitive explanation from the DeKalb County Health Department that stated that we are indeed a mass gathering,” she said.
Rex said the association tried to think of ways they could adapt to COVID-19 and still have the fair. She said the ideas were interesting but not practical.
She said this cancellation financially impacts a lot of businesses that sell food or merchandise at the annual event.
“And also, some of the vendors are nonprofit organizations such as the Sandwich Lions Club, the Sandwich Rotary Club, Sports Boosters, a couple of different churches that count on income from their stands,” she explained.
Rex said the vendors were disappointed but they do understand. She said they were sent a letter giving them the option of applying any payments they made for this year to the 2021 fair, or choosing to receive a refund.
Rex said the main focus is now on next year's fair. It’s set to take place from Sept. 8 through 12.
- Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It’s a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.