Oklahoma State Fair’s cancellation expected to have a ripple effect

The COVID-19 pandemic this year has canceled all kinds of events, festivals and fairs worldwide. With the number of coronavirus cases rising in Oklahoma, the fair wasn’t the only large event to scratch its 2020 edition this week: Linde Oktoberfest Tulsa, which was planned for October and annually draws 60,000 people, also was canceled Friday for the first time in its four-decade history, while the 13th annual Norman Music Festival, which last year featured more than 300 acts and drew an estimated 100,000 attendees, was scrapped Wednesday after initially postponing from April to August.

“We’ve been talking literally for three months about how to design something that would be palatable, and every time that we come up with an idea we get hit with a spike (in cases) and say, ‘Well, maybe that’s not gonna work,'” Munz said.

One of the fair’s premier attractions, Disney on Ice, announced earlier this month that it was canceling its 2020 engagements at the Oklahoma State Fair and the Tulsa State Fair, which is scheduled for Oct. 1-11. The fair’s other arena event, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Xtreme Bulls and Concerts, was still on, but the venue capacity would have to be slashed.

“It makes it very impractical to break even, let alone make any money. … There’s some serious restrictions in place,” Munz said. “And then there’s the carnival … How do you wipe down the rides between trips and not cause a backlog that then is going to impact the social distancing … because the line is going to get so long?”

Economic impact

The Oklahoma State Fair boasts a yearly economic impact of about $100 million.

“It impacts a lot of people on the fair circuit and within the fair industry,” Munz said. “There’s also a ripple effect out in the community: you look at restaurants that are impacted, you look at hotels that are impacted, you look at gas stations that are impacted because of the influx of people into Oklahoma City.”

Along with attendees there for the fun, the event annually attracts thousands of competitors, vendors and exhibitors. Norman-based carver Fernando “Don” Dulnuan Jr. has been setting up his Don’s Chainsaw Creations tent at the fair annually since 2018, and he was looking forward to creating more chain saw art at this year’s event.

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