The toughest decision: canceling the 2020 N.C. State Fair

When we started planning for this year’s State Fair last November, no one would have guessed what the next few months would bring. We’ve been monitoring the guidelines from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. We’ve thought through how we could hold a Fair in October and stay true to what has always been our ultimate goal: a safe and entertaining event for families to enjoy.

We’ve hoped our state’s numbers would turn around. We’ve hoped for the health of our friends and families as we see so many struggling. We’ve hoped we’d find a way to give everyone something to look forward to. The N.C. State Fair means so much to so many. Our staff has struggled through work groups looking for solutions. How can we manage food lines? How can the carnival be successful with cleaning between each rider? How can we successfully sanitize? How can we work with our partners to get people to the Fair safely? Are there any parts of the Fair that could follow guidelines and still go on? The discussions have been complex and difficult.

What we ultimately determined is that our correct course of action to do our part for the health and safety of our community and to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 is to cancel the 2020 N.C. State Fair. We are disappointed for all that annually look forward to the largest event in North Carolina including the N.C. State Fair staff that work all year to bring the best to our visitors.


We know this does not come without consequence. The State Fair is a vital economic engine for local non-profits, community groups, small businesses, individuals and artists. Competitors have been working all year to perfect their exhibits to show. These people who pour their talents into the Fair are the foundation on which we are built and are true partners in lock-step with Fair staff to produce a tradition in North Carolina that dates back to 1853. We could not be more grateful for them or more saddened by this outcome.

Our staff will begin planning for the 2021 N.C. State Fair in the coming weeks. We will come out of this stronger with new ideas and events for you to look forward to. As guidelines allow, we will continue reopening the Fairgrounds for year-round events. We look forward to seeing you October 14-24, 2021 for the 153rd North Carolina State Fair. Until then, stay healthy and be kind to each other.

For additional details, here’s a link to the full press release.

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