NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Tennessee State Fair at The Fairgrounds Nashville has been canceled for the first time since World War II because of health concerns imposed by COVID-19.
State Fair Manager Scott Jones said in a news release the fair is not "closing its doors or abandoning its long history and tradition."
"We're just doing what we believe is in the best interest of the health and well being of those who walk through our gates each year."
The Tennessee State Fair was set to be held Sept. 11-20. It's at least the third large fair to cancel for this year. The Williamson and Wilson county fairs had previously announced it would not be held in 2020.
“The Fairgrounds Nashville has been made aware of the announcement made today by the Tennessee State Board concerning the 2020 State Fair. The health and safety of our visitors and staff is important to us. We look forward to hosting a full State Fair in 2021," said Scott Wallace, Director of Sales, Marketing & Events at The Fairgrounds Nashville, in a statement
Fair officials said that plans are still in the works for some activities to be open for the public's participation.
Jones said the decision regarding the fair was not made hastily. The Tennessee State Fair Association board held lengthy sessions twice last week to discuss what to do with regards to producing this year's fair.
"The more we talked with local and state officials, gathered information from those involved with other similar events, and discussed the topic thoroughly within our own board, we came to the conclusion that it would be best this year to not host a traditional state fair," Jones said in a news release.
Jones noted that also adding to the challenge of hosting a fair on The Fairgrounds Nashville site this year was the fact that the midway footprint had been reduced in size in order to make way for the construction of the new MLS stadium. Jones said that with a smaller space than what the Tennessee State Fair had occupied in past years, there was a concern about being able to meet the restrictions and preventive recommendations associated with COVID-19 as expressed by healthcare officials.
Jones said that he and staff members are developing plans to have a number of activities during the 10-day period that the fair is scheduled to be held. Plans being considered include contests, exhibits, the presence of certain carnival-like vendors and virtual and/or digital events.
"While we make these plans, we acknowledge that we must be ever so conscious of maintaining a healthy and safe environment and abiding by the guidelines that have been establised by healthcare officials locally and nationwide," Jones said.
Jones said the volunteer TSFA board, comprised of members from across the state, was adamant that the State Fair should have a presence this year. He said many of the activities that are typically associated with the state fair will not be scheduled this year, including livestock competitions, live entertainment programs, pageants and other activities of that nature that generally attract large numbers of persons standing or sitting close together or waiting in line for tickets.
"We plan to do our very best to provide some agenda that will still make it entertaining and educational to attend an abbreviated production of the Fair this year," Jones said.
Additional announcements on the ongoing plans for this year's fair will be made at a later time. The 2021 Tennessee State Fair, always a 10-day production, is set to open on Friday, Sept. 10.