2021 Sunshine Fair? Here's hoping


By Jim Poole

The Schoharie County Sunshine Fair is on schedule for August 10-15.
That’s the plan, anyway, although COVID restrictions could cancel the Fair, as they did last year.
Fair President Doug Cater is cautiously optimistic, especially since Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that amusement parks can open with limited capacity.
“But he said nothing about fairs,” Mr. Cater said Thursday. “All the Fairs. . .we’re ready to go, but we have to get the okay from the Governor.”
There are concerns, however. If fairs are limited to 30-percent capacity, they won’t make money and cover costs. A higher capacity limit––75 percent––might work better.
But 75 percent is far from perfect.
“Say it’s 75 percent,” Mr. Cater said. “What do you do Friday, Saturday and Sunday when we get a lot of people? Are you going to stand at the gate and send people home?”
Although most people are used to wearing masks, social distancing could be an issue in the Entertainment Tent, tractor pulls and demo derbies.
“At those, the biggest thing would be social distancing,” Mr. Cater said. “You’d need people policing it and say, ‘You can’t sit there.’ That would be tough.”
But there are options and hope. Mr. Cater last week attended the huge Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City not only to enjoy the show but primarily to see how officials there handled their entertainment and COVID restrictions.
One option is downsizing the Sunshine Fair to make it more amenable with COVID restrictions, though Mr. Cater said downsizing “would be something to figure out.”
Mr. Cater is encouraged, too, by better guidelines for this year’s horse shows at the Fairgrounds, some of which are on schedule.
Finally, there’s time. The Sunshine Fair is five months away, which allows for more vaccinations and relaxed protocols.
But time cuts the other way, too. Officials of all fairs need time to line up acts, vendors and more.
In the end, Mr. Cater said, it’s up to Governor Cuomo.
“The Governor said he wants the State Fair to go on, but he said that last year, too,” Mr. Cater said.
“A lot of things have to come together, but we could definitely do it.”
The Sunshine Fair Board waited till almost the last minute last year––the end of June––to cancel the Fair. There’s no deadline this year, Mr. Cater said.
With so many other events having been cancelled, he’s well aware that families are eager for entertainment. Mr. Cater pointed to attendance at the drive-thru holiday celebration at the Fairgrounds, A December to Remember, that far outstripped expectations.
“People want to have something,” Mr. Cater said. “Things look better than last year. I hope we can do it. I really hope so.”