After a pandemic cancellation last year, the Indiana State Fair is open for a three-and-a-half-week run.
Governor Holcomb and Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch cut the ribbon to signal the official start of the fair, conspicuously flanked by state health commissioner Kristina Box. State Fair director Cynthia Hoye says it wasn’t practical to enforce social distancing at the fair, but the fair is stepping up cleaning protocols. The fair has added more sanitizing stations, and is handing out packaged individual wipes at the entrance. And the fair will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays for cleaning crews to go through the entire property.
Holcomb warns the coronavirus’s new Delta variant is “uber-infectious,” but says with more than 40-percent of all Hoosiers now vaccinated, Indiana is in a different place than it was last year. The Delta-fueled surge has Indiana averaging about 900 new cases a day, about 90 more than at this time last year. But Holcomb says along with the vaccine, the state now has testing and tracing infrastructure in place. And he notes much of the fair takes place outdoors, where the virus spreads less effectively.
Box says the health department will offer COVID vaccinations at the Exposition Hall during the fair — as well as childhood vaccines families may have missed during the pandemic last year.
Holcomb says the opening of the fair is important both economically and symbolically. He says it’s a demonstration of Hoosier resilience, especially on the part of farmers, who he says stepped up to help when the state was in need.