Citing coronavirus-related health concerns and Gov. Gavin Newsom's open-ended shelter-in-place order, California State Fair organizers have cancelled this year's gathering, set for July 17-Aug. 2.
"Based on the advice of health experts and the continued guidance issued by the governor, the Cal Expo Board has decided to cancel the California State Fair and Food Festival until 2021," Cal Expo general manager and chief executive officer Rick Pickering said Friday in a statement.
"The health and safety of the community, our guests, and staff is our number one priority," he said. "Cancelling this summer’s California State Fair is the right thing to do, and is in line with the measured, scientific approach that’s been implemented by the governor and health officials to fight COVID-19. California Exposition and State Fair is a proud member of the statewide community and we will continue to do our part to combat COVID-19."
The fairgrounds in Sacramento are now being used as a drive-through testing site, as well as a temporary emergency isolation trailer facility for homeless people who have been exposed or infected with COVID-19, Pickering said.
Cal Expo has been serving as a temporary host for some events usually held at the downtown convention center, which is under a remodel. Events moved to Cal Expo in recent months included the Almond Conference in December and the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in February.
"Cancelling the California State Fair and many of the 200 year-round events hosted at Cal Expo is having a significant economic impact on Cal Expo and the region," he said. "We are sensitive to the fact Cal Expo is a regional, economic engine that generates sales tax revenue and employs over 800 seasonal workers.
"Our staff is working diligently on a strategy to safely reopen when appropriate and we look forward to the time when we can all gather again safely to celebrate the great things Californians have done and will do in the future," he said.
The event was cancelled via a unanimous vote Friday by the fair board, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. The 2018 State Fair brought in $16.5 million in revenue to Cal Expo, 60% of its total revenue for the year, the Business Journal notes.
It's the state fair's first cancellation since World War II, notes the San Jose Mercury News.