By John Kanelis
If this was to be the year you would try out some fried beer at Fair Park in Dallas … you’ll just have to wait until 2021.
The Texas State Fair isn’t going to occur this year. Fair organizers have canceled the annual event for the first time since the end of World War II; back then we were too busy celebrating the end of the bloodiest conflict in world history. This year’s cancellation comes – as if you need reminding – because we are in the midst of another struggle against the coronavirus pandemic.
This is absolutely, unequivocally and without question the correct call.
The State Fair is a gigantic public event, drawing millions of visitors to Dallas every year. They’re crammed along the fair midway, sampling this and that fare that passes for “food.”
The fair board said the 2021 event will occur Sept. 21 through Oct. 17. The Texas Tribune reports that 2.5 million spectators attended the 2019 fair. Given the social distancing rules governing outdoor venues this year, well, let’s just say the attendance would be significantly less than in recent previous years.
We shouldn’t complain about this cancellation. I am fully supportive of the decision.
According to the Texas Tribune: “One of the greatest aspects of the Fair is welcoming each and every person who passes through our gates with smiles and open arms," said Gina Norris, board chair for the State Fair of Texas, in a written statement. "In the current climate of COVID-19, there is no feasible way for the Fair to put proper precautions in place while maintaining the Fair environment you know and love."
More from the Tribune: Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement that he was saddened by the closure, but that the organization made the right decision.
“COVID-19’s spread is rampant in our community, and public health must come first," he said. "We all have to do what it takes to slow this virus so we can save lives and livelihoods and get back to doing what we enjoy.”
What is not entirely clear, at least to me, is the status of the annual Texas-Oklahoma college football game, which occurs at the Cotton Bowl smack in the middle of Fair Park and during the State Fair. My hunch is that the game will proceed, although there might have to be some serious restrictions placed on the number of fans who will be able to watch the game. Big 12 officials say they intend to play football this season. Whether they do so in stadiums filled with fans remains a seriously open question.
Texas happens to be in dire straits at the moment as it fights the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to take great care as we move ahead with staging these athletic events.
As for the State Fair, well, let’s wait a year before we scarf down that fried beer.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.