FORT PAYNE, Ala.- The COVID-19 pandemic continues as the number of positive cases in Alabama has now surpassed 152,000 Monday.
In DeKalb County, there were nearly 2,500 cases Monday with 21 people who have died from the virus.
Many large events have been canceled since the start of the coronavirus crisis, but during the summer, more and more businesses and events started opening up, including fairs.
Monday night was the opening of the 66th annual DeKalb County VFW Agricultural Fair.
The rain Monday evening put a literal damper on the first night of the event. But several people were still there braving the short-lived storm to ride the rides, eat fair food, and listen to live music.
Holding the fair is a big deal for the DeKalb County VFW.
Fair manager Charles Stephens told News 19 they were unsure if they would be able to host the annual event, as several others earlier this year were canceled due to COVID-19, which has cost the nonprofit around $25,000 to $30,000.
Stephens said the Agricultural Fair is the VFW’s main source of income and keeps their facilities and programs going.
At the 2020 fair, there will be increased cleaning and sanitization of bathrooms and several hand sanitizing stations through the fairgrounds.
Stephens told News 19 they have spent around $15,000 to $20,000 on cleaning equipment to better slow the spread of the deadly disease.
“Everything that they’re doing in the schools as far as chemicals and the spraying, we’re doing exactly that same thing on this fairground. People have just been cooped up so long with this that maybe they can come out and let off some steam and enjoy themselves and have a good family affair outside,” Stephens said.
Fairgoers are also strongly encouraged to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
There are a few 4-H livestock shows during the event including a chick chain and auction and a beef show.
“We did away with our individual exhibits like the agriculture and hand crafts and canned goods and sewing and all these kinds of things because we simply could not figure out a way to protect our people that were registering it and protect our public that was coming in to enter it in the fair. We’ve caught some flak from some people over that but safety to us was more important than getting the exhibits in there,” said Stephens.
Kissel Entertainment, which is providing the rides, games, and food has its own set of safety protocols for workers, including mandatory mask use, cleaning between each rider/game player as well as social distancing people on rides unless they live in the same household.
Click here for more information on the fair.