Marion County Fair opening with COVID-19 precautions

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Marion County Fair is set to open July 11 after postponing in May because of COVID-19. It is one of the first big events in our area since the start of the pandemic and one organizer expects even more visitors than normal.

Fair organizers typically welcome 5,500 to 7,500 people per day. This year, spokesperson Abdul-Hakim Shabazz thinks possibly 10,000 people could show up.

“Our capacity is 100,000 people so 10,000 is just a tenth of that,” he said. “We should be fine with social distancing, plenty of room and plenty of space for people to enjoy the fair.”

The Marion County Fair had to submit a plan to the Marion County Public Health Department. MCPHD is asking events in Marion County that anticipate more than 1,000 participants to submit a risk mitigation plan.

MCPHD said this will allow the health department to review for any public health recommendations or requirements for the protection of staff and visitors. This is not an approval process, but rather an opportunity for MCPHD to review and offer input to improve the plan if needed.

Under Indiana’s re-opening plan, fairs and festivals can resume under Stage 4.5.

“We think if we do our part, you know, to keep the place clean, everybody should be fine,” said Shabazz.

Face coverings are mandatory for entry. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed at every intersection along Main Street as well as both entrances to the petting zoo. Daily health screenings of all employees, volunteers and vendors will take place. The fair will also encourage social distancing guidelines in ques for entrance, food vendors and attractions.

A full list of precautions is on the Marion County Fair website.

Indiana State Department of Health statistics show the daily positive test infection rate in Marion County went up from late June compared to early July.

Doctor Brian Dixon, a research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, has been analyzing COVID-19 data in the state. He urges fair-goers to use precaution.

“My fear would be that people come out and think that if we have a normal event like a fair, that we have every year, that they can let down their guard,” he said.

One food truck vendor drove more than 1,000 miles from Florida to come to the Marion County Fair. Ronn Awad said the last event he went to was the first week of March.

“The big unknown is how many folks are going to come out,” said Awad. “There are so many concerned about COVID and there are so many who are sick and tired about being at home.”

Most of the attractions are outside, but indoor activity capacity will be limited to 50 percent.

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