Kentucky State Fair: Tradition Triumphs

Posted on Sep 4, 2020

Scaled-down event still proved to be exciting for hundreds of livestock exhibitors

Normally, the month of August would be the time of year when hundreds of thousands of people would make their way to the Kentucky Exposition Center to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Kentucky State Fair.

But 2020 has been anything but normal due to regulations put in place because of COVID-19. However, tradition triumphed for livestock exhibitors and horse show enthusiasts, and a state fair did occur – even if it had a very different look to it.

Restrictions kept the general public away along with vendors, rides and many of the displays that are synonymous with one of the oldest state fairs in the country.

But the youth livestock shows and the World Championship Horse Show prevailed, allowing competitors to complete their long year of preparation for the top shows in their respective classes.

Kentucky Farm Bureau’s participation was also scaled down, but the organization still showed support for the many livestock exhibitors who vied for a coveted spot in the Championship Drive.

“Each year, young people from across the state work so hard to prepare for the chance to show their animals at the state fair,” said KFB President Mark Haney. “While we understand the restrictions that had to be put in place for this year’s event, we are certainly glad these exhibitors still had the chance to participate in this long-standing tradition.”

Haney added that it’s never too soon to think about next year.

“If the current coronavirus situation has taught was anything, we have learned to look and plan for the future,” he said. “We know these restrictions will not be with us forever and we’re already looking forward to the 2021 Kentucky State Fair.”

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said while this year’s fair looked much different, many families and children were “just plain grateful” to have an opportunity to participate in youth livestock shows.

“Every day, multiple times a day, children of all ages and their parents would come up to me to express their appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to show livestock,” he said. “Many of them said they didn’t think they would have the opportunity to participate in this great agricultural tradition that teaches discipline, patience, and the proper way to take care of animals. For my part, I would like to thank the parents and kids who followed the public health guidelines we put in place. This pandemic has caused so much turmoil in our lives and I continue to pray for an end to it so that we can have a normal fair in 2021.”

In addition to the livestock shows, Saddlebred exhibitors also had the chance to participate in the World Championship Horse Show, bringing the best of the breed from across the country. Stake Night even featured the Oak Ridge Boys singing the National Anthem, which enabled the group to continue their string of consecutive appearances at the Kentucky State Fair. This year marked the 45th in a row that the country music quartet has performed at the fair, a record unmatched by any other touring group.