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Manatee County Fair opens Thursday night with COVID-19 safety measures in place

Fair organizers say they didn't want to cancel because the event is the only source of income for some vendors.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — The coronavirus pandemic is still very prevalent, but the Manatee County Fair is sticking with its plan to open tonight. It will be the 105th Manatee County Fair. 

It's the first major fair to open in Florida since the pandemic began.

Danny Alfonso, the fair manager, says he didn’t want to cancel, being this was the only source of income for many vendors. He says due to COVID-19 the fair is going to look very different with multiple safety protocols in place. 

Here’s the list of protocols he says fairgoers will have to follow:

  • The arts and craft building is going to be one directional. There will be arrows pointing one way in and one way out. Alfonso says there will be social distancing as well.
  • Veterans Hall – same protocols as listed above
  • Livestock area, he says had the biggest change. They limited everything to one animal species in the barn at a time
  • Concessions – social distancing between booths. Alfonso says they’ve also reduced the amount of food booths. “We did not limit vendors, just told them they could only have one booth,” Alfonso said.
  • At the Midway Alfonso says they will fill every other seat and sanitize in between 
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be scattered around the fairgrounds
  • “All the walkways are going to be marked as one directional,” Alfonso said.
  • He says they are also working with Bactronix Suncoast to have the entire fairground treated with an antimicrobial treatment which is guaranteed for 30 days. “Praise God our fair is only 11 days,” Alfonso said.
  • There’s a sanitizing crew whose sole purpose is to continually go through the grounds and sanitize
  • Face masks are required to enter any buildings on the county fairgrounds
  • Masks are strongly recommended but not required while outdoors where social distancing can be maintained. The county itself doesn't have a mask mandate in place anymore.
  • Alfonso says all attendees are strongly urged to wear face masks whenever and wherever possible 

The fair runs from Jan. 14 through Jan. 24. 

Hours of operation:

  • Jan. 14: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Jan. 15 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. 
  • Jan. 16: noon - 10 p.m.
  • Jan. 17: noon - 10 p.m.
  • Jan. 18: noon - 10 p.m.
  • Jan. 19: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Jan. 20: noon - 10 p.m. 
  • Jan. 21: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Jan. 22: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Jan. 23: noon - 10 p.m.
  • Jan. 24: noon - 7 p.m.

RELATED: Florida State Fair postponed until April 2021

RELATED: Florida Strawberry Festival cancels big concerts in 2021

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