By Mario Lotmore | Lynnwood Times Staff
Snohomish County announced the cancellation of the 2020 Evergreen State Fair, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fair is an annual family tradition and was scheduled for August 27-September 7, 2020.
The “Safe Start Washington” plan by Governor Jay Inslee has a 12-week timeline. This would equate to a July 25 lifting to all restrictions of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. The Lynnwood Times inquired why the decision was made to cancel the Evergreen State Fair when the event is a full month after the 12-week “Safe Start Washington” plan ends.
The Office of the Snohomish County Executive stated logistical constraints, expenses associated with cancelations within lead-times and a projected 25% decrease in attendance because of the current public health concerns which would translate to a $500,000 net loss for the event.
“Multiple factors were considered in making our decision… Many of our long-term business, exhibitor, vendor and non-profit partners were planning to incur substantial additional costs this year based on health and safety guidelines. Timely notification was imperative, or we would have forced these partners to incur expenses at a time when many can’t afford it. The best approach was to cancel early and ensure we have the best possible Fair in 2021,” stated Rose Smith, Communications Specialist for Snohomish County Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SCPRT) in an emailed response.
Smith continued, “Given the projected cost increases associated with CDC and DOH guidelines for implementing an event of this size and scope, current public perception of large scale events, as well as the immense problems of safely hosting 25,000 – 50,000 people daily… we believe the 2020 Evergreen State Fair would operate at a significant loss. A 25% decrease in attendance/revenue would result in an annual net loss of more than $500,000.”
At its May 12 Fair Advisory Board meeting, Board members expressed disappointment in a lack of involvement from the county to include stakeholders in the decision to cancel the event.
“I do think a lot of people have expressed concerned that input was not gotten from the Fair Board and I don’t believe the council got to give their input before this recommendation was made. That would have been nice to happen; whether it would have changed the decision or not,” said Elaine Johannsen, 2020 Fair Advisory Board Chair.
Attending the meeting was Jeremy Husby, Division Manager, Evergreen State Fair Park. He apologized for the lapse in communication to not involving members of the Fair Advisory Board in the decision process. “I agree that’s on me Elaine, that I did not get to you guys soon enough,” said Husby.
According to the email from Smith, the Snohomish Health District supported the recommendation by Tom Teigen, Director, Evergreen State Fair Park to cancel the event.
Snohomish has joined Skagit, Clark, and Kent counties to cancel its 2020 county fair. According to its website, the Washington State Fair is currently scheduled for September 4-27, 2020. Unlike the Evergreen State Fair, the Washington State Fair is a privately owned.
In a statement provided by Heather Thomas, Public & Government Affairs Manager of the Snohomish Health District, “We recognize the hardship this creates, and understand this is an event our county and state look forward to every year. However, the decision is in the best interest of Snohomish County and its residents. We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of those this decision impacts.”
The 12-day Evergreen State Fair including the year-round events – Evergreen Equestrian Park, Evergreen Speedway, Trade Shows, etc. – generate $5.7 million in annual revenue or a profit of approximately $900,000 directly to the SCPRT Department. Per County Code, profits are invested back into the Fair Park Capital Investment Program.
Jeremy Husby, Division Manager, Evergreen State Fair Park in a press release stated, “We are looking forward to the time when events are open again and especially when we can all gather to celebrate at the 2021 Fair, scheduled for August 26-September 6.”