Just weeks before the Fort Bend County Fair is set to return, officials with the organization announced several changes and cancellations as cases of the delta variant of coronavirus spike around the state.
A news release from the Fort Bend County Fair said the opening parade, as well as the junior royalty pageants, Senior Citizen’s Day, Student Fun Day, Diaper Derby, Exceptional Rodeo, pet show, Stick Horse Rodeo, and Children’s Tractor Pull will not come back until 2022.
The news of the cancellations came a short time before County Judge KP George cautioned people to wear masks and socially distance if they attend the fair.
Fair Association spokesperson Barbara Robertson said Friday that the fair association has been in communication with George’s office for the last several months regarding safety recommendations amidst the delta variant’s rise in the region. The events that were cancelled, she said, were those suggested by the county and its health authority, Dr. Jacquelyn Minter.
Fort Bend County had 76,142 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from the county’s dashboard, as of Monday. There have been 833 patients who have died from the virus, according to the county, and more than 67,700 patients have recovered.
The county said 71 percent of residents 12 or older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 86 percent of residents 65 years of age or older have gotten at least one dose.
“These were the recommendations that allow us to move forward,” fair president Brian Graeber said.
When asked whether county officials had approached the Fair Association with regards to potentially cancelling the fair and rodeo, Robertson referred questions to the county. A Friday voicemail left with George’s office seeking comment on the matter was not immediately returned.
George, in a statement released Friday, said that his office is aware of the changes made to proceedings, and that the decisions the association made were independent of any county oversight.
The association operates as an independent entity, he said, and thus has the authority to make its own decisions regarding the 2021 events. However, he said the county will support any changes the fair has or will make.
“Upon advisement of the Fort Bend County Health & Human Services Department and local health authority, we strongly recommend that all who attend the Fair wear a mask both indoors and outdoors when unable to physically distance, regardless of vaccination status,” he said. “…We are confident that the Fort Bend County Fair Association will take extraordinary measures to protect the health of all fairgoers.”
According to the fair association, extra hand washing and sanitizing stations will be available in efforts to help protect against COVID-19, while many of the rodeo’s events are outdoors. Additional safety measures will be implemented at various attractions, the fair said.
The fair will run Sept. 24-Oct. 3. For more information on the fair, visit fortbendcountyfair.com.