Fairs are a 'Go’ for July

Suzette Lowe

After having very few celebrations in the last year, Jackson County is on track to see the return of two favorite events.

The Mountain State Art and Craft Fair and the Jackson County Junior Fair are both slated to return in July.

With the governor’s announcement that, effective May 1, the statewide ban on all fairs and festivals due to COVID-19 was lifted, those planning for the local fairs were given the green light to move ahead.

John Curry, president of the Junior Fair Board, said his group had already been preparing to have a fair this year.

“We were going ahead and just hoping that things would have settled down enough to allow it to happen,” he said.

Curry explained that many of the details must be ironed out well in advance of the actual event.

“Contracts have to be signed, groups have to be contacted,” he said. “Normally, we start working on next year’s fair just as soon as the current fair ends.”

The fair, which will be July 26-July 31 at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, will feature entertainment on stage, events on the track, 4-H and FFA events and many food vendors. Curry said the carnival hasn’t been confirmed but it is expected to be part of the festivities.

The annual youth livestock sale will be Friday, July 30. The Jackson County event is thought to be the only junior fair in West Virginia.

The “grandaddy of West Virginia’s art and craft festivals,’ the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair will take place from July 3-5 at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center.

Deb Gard, vice-president of the fair board, says that everyone associated with the venerable event is eager to get back to showcasing Appalachian arts.

“it was an extremely difficult decision to not have the fair last year,” Gard said. “We might have to scale down a bit this year, but we’ve got some exciting plans and a few new things to bring.”

Interactive events, such as basket making, are an important part of the fair. Gard said this may prove a challenge in a time where caution is urged.

“We will figure it out though,” she said. “Creativity and innovation are what we’re all about.”

The art and craft fair will feature vendors, demonstrations, music, food, along with traditional and non-traditional artisans.

Both Gard and Curry said that all required health and safety protocols will be followed. Organizers of both events are in close contact with the local health department for guidance.

“We’re just tickled that we’re going to be able to have the junior fair,” said Curry. “With most of our events outside, we think we’ll be just fine.”

Gard said that it’s clear that the art and craft fair has been missed.

“We’re known for showcasing artisans, music, dance, storytelling,” she said. “It’s such a relief to be back doing what we do so well.”