NEW PLYMOUTH — The general public will not be screened for admission to this year’s Payette County Fair and Rodeo, which is taking place Wednesday through Saturday amidst the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. However, youth enrolled in 4-H and FFA programs who are participating in the fair will be screened on check-in day on Tuesday.
This step, which was still being worked out early last week is being taken because the youth are “working in closer proximity with each other,” according to Adam Gonzalez, assistant emergency manager for Payette County Emergency Management.
Gonzalez has been working with fair officials on details regarding public safety measures, including social distancing wearing masks and other recommendations recently put in place by Southwest District Health.
The screening is the same as what is currently being done at the Payette County Courthouse, he said. This includes getting temperatures taken (anything over 100 degrees Fahrenheit would be concerning, he said), as well as answering a series of questions. Screeners will ask whether the youth have COVID-19, have any symptoms, have anyone in their household with COVID-like symptoms, have had contact in the past 14 days with a confirmed COVID case or someone awaiting tests, Gonzalez said.
As for individuals who answer yes to any of those questions, “we are recommending they go home,” he said.
As far as public safety recommendations, Gonzales says none are mandated; however, Emergency Management has provided recommendations and passed on SWDH guidance for large events.
Signs were posted around the fairgrounds last week, and include tips on washing hands, keeping a safe distance (6 feet or more) between yourself and others in your household and “how to maintain our own protection and the protection of others,” Gonzalez said.
As far as everyone who attends the fair staying safe, he said, “we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed.”
On July 27, there were “a lot of logistical things to still figure out” regarding getting everyone admitted for weigh-ins on Tuesday morning, including whether the veterinarian and youth will be wearing masks, according to Marilyn O’Leary, 4-H program coordinator.
“Just trying to prevent the spread [of COVID-19],” she said.
While the screening questionnaires were provided by the county, members of the Payette County Commission asked the fair board to do the screening, according to O’Leary.
Other things that have been altered for this year’s fair include some of the usual offerings of activities. This includes the cancelation of the watermelon eating contest and likely the stick horse races.
“Stick horse races are up in the air,” said Cathy Myers, fair secretary, on July 27.
The reason for this is the time constraint of having to sanitize the horses between each race.
“It would be too much of a time constraint, I think,” she said.