2020 Salem Fair canceled, fireworks still up in the air
For many in the Roanoke Valley, they're the sounds of summer: the screams from the rides, the bells and whistles of the game tents. But this year, the Salem Fairgrounds will stand silent.
"Really it boiled down to the safety of the community and the safety of our workers," said Wendy Delano, director of civic facilities for the City of Salem.
Delano says the city looked at a number of options, but couldn't find a way to make the fair safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
"How feasible is it to have people stand six feet away in a line trying to get on a ride? And then cleaning after that?" said Delano.
Organizers also looked at moving the fair later in the year, but found the vendors and rides were already booked up through the fall. Delano says that left the city with no choice but to cancel the fair for the first time in 33 years.
Fairgoers won't be the only ones seeing the effect. "There's a lot of business impact. I think we're going to feel it, with them not being here," said Delano.
City officials estimate the fair generates tens of thousands of dollars in tax revenue, and pumps far more than that into the local economy.
One part of the fair hasn't been canceled - at least not yet. Organizers are debating how to carry out Fourth of July fireworks safely. They hope to reach a decision as to whether or not to cancel the show later this week.
Delano says while the rest of the fair this year may be a wash, folks should keep their eyes on the future, because the Salem Fair will be back in 2021.
"We're wanting to make it bigger and better than ever," she said.