With DeKalb County's COVID-19 vaccinated population steadily climbing since April, the DeKalb County V.F.W. Agricultural Fair Committee and the V.F.W. have decided to move forward with the annual fair.
The annual DeKalb County V.F.W. Fair kicks off Monday, Sept. 27 through Saturday, Oct. 2.
President and Fair Manager Charles Stephens announced the DeKalb County V.F.W. Fair has decided to have a "limited fair" again this year due to COVID-19 and its variants.
DeKalb County V.F.W. Agricultural Fair has been a staple in the county for more than 65 years and, like many entities, has suffered setbacks due to the ongoing pandemic.
As a nonprofit 501(c)19 Veterans organization, they rely heavily on the many events scheduled throughout the year, including the fair.
“It is our decision not to have any individual exhibits this year, the scarecrow contest or the civic booths for competition,” he said. “It is with much heartfelt disappointment that we felt it necessary to make this decision, but the safety of the community, exhibitors, staff and workers had to take priority.”
Of their decision, Stephens said there was no way they could sufficiently sanitize the entries and items for the safety of all attendees and supporters. However, he said the annual fair would still feature the livestock, horse, mule, goat, cattle, lamb shows and the 4-H sponsored Chick Cain slated for Saturday, Oct. 2.
“Unfortunately, we cannot have the petting zoo which is loved by both young and old because of the threat of transfer from animal to human,” said Stephens.
Post 3128 Commander Eric Dudash said multiple sanitizer stations will be available for all the commercial areas and buildings.
The staff will utilize the same procedure from last year and sanitize contents each day before opening.
Stephens said they will practice social distancing and one-way foot traffic throughout the buildings, wearing masks and asked the public to do the same.
“Please remember that to ‘mask’ is not just for yourself but for those around you,” he said.
According to data released by the Alabama Department of Public Health, as of Sept. 16, 2021, in DeKalb County 34.46% of people have received at least one dose and 25.85% are fully vaccinated which has climbed significantly since April of 2021.
Along with the continued changes to this year's fair, Stephens said they have been in contact with Kissel Entertainment who has a plan of action in place to help protect fairgoers.
“Rides will be sanitized after each ride and social distancing will be practiced,” he said. “We will be doing all that we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and variants.”
Kissels Entertainment's sanitation plan can be viewed on their website at www.kisselentertainment.com.
The VFW Membership and Fair Committee hopes everyone will come out to support and enjoy this year's 66th annual fair.
“The fair committee would like to thank all of you for your support of our community and the county fair,” said Stephens.
As a nonprofit organization, Dudash said funds are not only used to maintain the facilities and conduct programs, they also help aid nonprofit veteran programs such as Kindred Hope, which provides Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder equine therapy.
The VFW will have a membership booth in the exhibit area with applications to sign up new members or donations.
Dudash said this year they are also doing something unique via an education scholarship program booth providing local students and parents with scholarship opportunities for students in K-12 grades in a variety of American or patriotic-themed categories.
“Last year, we awarded almost $4,200 in scholarships,” Dudash said. “Applications will be available at the booth.”
As a nonprofit 501(c)19 Veterans organization, tax-deductible donations are welcome and may be made at the membership booth during the fair or mailed to the DeKalb County VFW Post 3128 P.O. Box 680776, Fort Payne.
– Editor’s note: Look for more information about the V.F.W. Fair including times and events in an upcoming edition of the Times-Journal.