Cornish Fair, Quechee Balloon Festival canceled because of COVID-19

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/2/2020 8:51:30 AM
Modified: 6/2/2020 9:49:07 PM

CORNISH — Organizers of the Cornish Fair have had to cancel the annual August event this year out of safety concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The board of directors tried very hard to hold out as long as possible before making this decision in hopes that issues related to and around the COVID-19 virus within the state of New Hampshire would have subsided. But unfortunately, there were just too many open and unknown issues in order to have a fair this year,” Cornish Fair Secretary Glenn Thornton said in a statement released Monday night.

The Cornish Fair Association plans to hold a fair in 2021, from Aug. 20-22.

And on Tuesday, the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce said it had canceled the planned 2020 Quechee Hot Air Balloon Craft and Music festival, which draws thousands of visitors to Quechee.

Late last month, organizers of the Tunbridge World’s Fair and the North Haverhill Fair also said they couldn’t hold their fairs this summer.

Meriden farmer Steve Taylor, a member of the Cornish Fair Association and a former agriculture commissioner in New Hampshire, said via email that the Cornish board made its decision Monday evening and that so far, all but three of New Hampshire’s 11 agricultural fairs have canceled their events for this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has said fairs shouldn’t be held in his state this summer, and all fairs there have been canceled.

Taylor said at least 12 of Maine’s 22 fairs have been called off, including the Fryeburg Fair, the biggest in the state.

Organizers of the Quechee event had already postponed the balloon festival from Father’s Day weekend to September but decided that date was also untenable for health and safety reasons.

“We fully support our governor’s measures to combat COVID–19,” Hartford Area Chamber Executive Director PJ Skehan said in a statement. “While we are disappointed to have to make this decision, we believe it is not possible to run our event in a safe manner this year. We are confident that our balloonists will be back in the skies for our 2021 festival on Father’s Day Weekend June 18-20.”

And the town of Randolph and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce said their 2020 Fourth of July Parade has also been canceled.

Organizers have launched a theme — “safely separate, decorate and celebrate” — and encouraged residents in the towns of Randolph, Brookfield and Braintree to decorate their houses for a Fourth of July-related contest.

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