Rides, attractions and of course junk food - all things people are looking forward to this year as fairs and festivals return. Bouncing back from a year of shutdowns, dozens of Connecticut fairs are moving ahead with plans to reopen this summer and fall.
Although cautiously optimistic, the Milford Oyster Festival is among those planning to host this year’s event. It is scheduled for August 21.
“We are geared up. We really want to put this on,” said Vice President of the Milford Oyster Festival Jay Pinto.
Pinto acknowledges there are still many unknowns. Because of that he says he is “excitedly nervous.” He is uneasy not knowing exactly what the restrictions will be come August.
“We are planning ahead as best we can, but we have to be prepared to adjust,” said Pinto.
The New Haven and Middlesex County 4-H fair is hoping to hold its 95th fair and are planning for the first weekend in August.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, maybe,” said Peg Grillo, extension educator for New Haven’s 4-H program.
Grillo explains the fair is mostly run by the kids themselves, providing a leadership experience and teaching responsibility. Grillo says not being able to hold the fair last year was “horrible.”
“It was hard to watch what the kids had to do to make that determination and they had to determine it,” she explained.
Fair organizers who spoke with NBC Connecticut say there’ve been countless meetings, discussing ways to ensure social distancing while maintaining a true fair experience, which many people are looking forward to.
“As long as we can do it in a safe way, I think it will be super fun for everybody,” said Alison Michaud of Middlefield.
Michaud always looks forward to attending the Durham Fair which is also planning to reopen this year. With agriculture as its foundation, the Durham Fair has become a time-tested Connecticut tradition. In 2019 it celebrated its 100th year, then came 2020.
“It was kind of sad that we came off as big high to nothing,” said Debbie Huscher, who volunteers as the fair’s marketing coordinator.
The Durham fair is looking to rebound this fall and is scheduled to happen September 23 through the 26.
“I think it’s exciting. I think my kids are going to love it,” said Tara Taylor of Guilford.
To ensure safety measures, fair organizers say they are in regular contact with state officials and are encouraged by the way cases are trending right now.
“We are cautiously optimistic. We want the Durham Fair to happen,” added Huscher.
Recruiting volunteers though is a challenge. It takes approximately 1,700 to make the Durham fair happen.
Each year the Durham fair attracts an estimated 200,000 people. It also serves as a fundraiser for several local non-profits. The Durham foundation itself gives $25,000 worth of scholarships to local high school students.