With Eastern Equine Encephalitis being detected in more Connecticut towns, fair organizers are looking at ways to manage the mosquito threat during their outdoor events.
EEE has always been a concern for livestock owners, but the mosquito-borne virus has proved to be fatal in people as it recently killed two Connecticut residents. The Durham Fair president said worried fairgoers have reached out to him, wondering what they’re doing to keep the event safe.
Jerry Martin runs the pony rides at the Durham Fair. He says he’s been paying close attention to the developments surrounding EEE. Spread through the bite of a mosquito, it’s been known to kill horses. He has a herd of them that he’s made sure to vaccinate.
“It’s in the back of my mind,” said Martin. “How well does the inoculation work? We don’t know.”
The fair’s president, Daniel Miramant, said his office has fielded at least a dozen calls and emails over fears of EEE.
“A lot of our fair goers have sent inquiries in. They wanted to know if we were doing anything about it,” said Miramant.
In light of the growing threat from the virus in people, this year, fair organizers took the extra step of spraying the fairground perimeter.
“We’ve done the best we can. We follow the Department of Health’s recommendations. Can’t guarantee that - like anyone really can - but we’re pretty confident we’ve done what’s been asked of us,” he explained.
“It is the fair weekend and it’s a little wet, so I’m a little worried about being out too late,” said Kelly Dorsey of Middlefield.
Dorsey said that worry wasn’t enough to keep her away from her favorite fair tradition.
Jessica Stark of Meriden agreed, saying she was concerned about her 6-year-old son getting bitten, but not enough to stay home.
“You can’t stop life. You have to continue on and do things. You can’t stop everything you’re doing,” said Stark.
Fair organizers are reminding people to take their own precautions so they can enjoy the extra evening entertainment added to celebrate the 100th fair. That includes Thursday night’s fireworks display, a laser light show Friday and Saturday night, and the Big and Rich concert, also Saturday evening.
“A little bit of rain tonight I don’t think they should be too bad tonight, hopefully,” said Steven Mclean of Prospect, who brought his grandchildren to the fair on Thursday.
With 62-acres of fairgrounds, organizers say they can’t guarantee they’ve taken care of all the bugs, but they hope they’ve done enough to keep the estimated 200,000 fairgoers expected to come through the gates safe.
“It means they’re paying attention and they’re aware of it and they’re not just mindlessly having this big event that’s going to draw people to the area and then do nothing about it,” added Dorsey.
The fair runs through Sunday. Click here for the full fair schedule.