The events of 2020 have left our community with a gaping hole. For the first time since World War II, the Danville Chamber of Commerce has had to cancel the Danville Fair -- a staple in the local community since 1929.
Nearly a hundred years ago, the fair was planned in just six short weeks and included a myriad of activities all centered around the area’s local agriculture. Although there will be no fair this year, the 90th-anniversary event planned has taken eight months. Times have certainly changed since the Fair’s beginning.
The decision to cancel the Fair this year was not taken lightly. The Fair Committee worked for two months after the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to adapt to mandated requirements should we be able to hold the event. As time passed, it was clear our fair’s modest budget and the health and safety of our community was no match for the virus causing a ruckus around the world. With heavy hearts, we called for the question at an emergency chamber meeting held for the first time from remote locations using teleconferencing. With sadness in their voices, the group somberly agreed it was in the best interest of our community to press the pause button on one of our community’s strongest traditions.
For those who have never been part of the fair planning process, it is important to know we start booking entertainment, assigning sites on the Green, obtaining permits and ordering supplies and equipment in September immediately following the previous fair. This means we began paying bills, fees and making down payments for the 2020 Fair months ago. We would be remiss not to mention the funding for the fair has two main streams: the $3 tickets sold at the event and generous sponsors. Without the support of our community businesses we simply would not have a fair. Being that more than half our sponsors were closed this spring due to the COVID-19 virus, we did not feel it would be considerate as a Chamber to ask for any money from businesses already struggling. We would much prefer our community back on its feet next year to help us in the process of bringing back the fair with a full complement of entertaining activities.
After determining we would not have a fair in 2020 based on health, safety and financial concerns, our decision was followed up with an order from Governor Phil Scott canceling all fairs in Vermont for the season. The chamber is comprised of a small group, possibly described by some as a little stubborn. We may not be able to have a fair, but we can’t let a fair day pass without something fair-like.
To help all our dedicated fairgoers recover from the blow of our unfortunate circumstances, the Chamber has made arrangements to bring you the best, and safest version of a Fair event we can: a parade! To be held on the first Saturday in August at 10:30 a.m., with prizes, music, and of course social distancing. The plan is to line up at the Danville School and make our way around the largest parade route we have ever had, covering part of Brainerd Street, Mountain View Drive, Hill Street and returning to the school. Parade viewing will be available through the full route with encouraged social distancing.
The parade will still be honoring our Citizens of the Year: the Danville School, faculty, staff and students. Being an exceptionally unordinary year for the school we need to celebrate their success in using new technology and the impressive way they handled the changes and challenges of remote learning.
Having some time before August, we are looking for your ideas for a theme! What makes you feel nostalgic about the fair? Do you have a favorite memory? Where do you draw your community spirit from? Put on your thinking caps and check out our Facebook page to get details about how you can enter to win a prize for submitting the winning theme!
If you are not friends with us on Facebook, you should be! We will begin a stroll down memory lane with some of our favorite Fair facts and trivia. Keep your eyes open for a chance to win prizes, add to our stories and join in the fun of one of our communities’ oldest traditions. We are looking forward to hearing your stories, gathering ideas and seeing the smiles on Fairgoer’s faces as we pass through the years.
Although times have changed and the fair is not the same as it once was, it is still an important social event for the community. In the beginning, the intent was to bring the local communities together and celebrate the success of local agriculture- a terrific place to show off your hard work in front of your friends and neighbors. An event full of pride, friendships and in the times before everyone had a car and cell phone, a perfectly timed event to reunite with friends for the summer.
For those of you worried about the future of the Danville Fair, rest assured we have already booked entertainment and commitments from vendors to ensure you will have the opportunity to once again join us on the Green in 2021.
Thank you all for your support and we can’t wait to see all of the creative floats, cars, banners and smiling faces at the parade.