Like almost everything else, area county fairs have fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while decisions to cancel musical acts and midway attractions were made, representatives of the Delaware County Fair and the Great Jones County Fair deserve credit for keeping the youth of their counties in mind.

Both fairs will move forward with 4-H and FFA contests. They are holding events with caution, limiting spectators and encouraging social distancing. The decision to hold those shows and contests align with both fairs’ long tradition of keeping young people front and center during fair week.

Delaware County Fair officials, in conjunction with the ISU Delaware County Extension Office, have put together guidelines for every 4-H and FFA event during fair week. Those may be found at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/delaware/content/2020-delaware-county-fair-plans.

The plans explain how events will proceed and who may attend. And again, safety for all involved is paramount in explanations of each event.

In a statement, Delaware County Fair Manager Jeannie Domeyer said, “I am excited to work with Delaware County Extension as they move forward with a plan to try to provide our 4H/FFA kids with a livestock and static exhibit show that tries to help them showcase their hard work. Our thanks go out to our community for supporting us and our local officials who work hard daily to keep us all safe!”

While plans are still being finalized in Jones County, Great Jones County Fair General Manager John Harms, in a notice on the fair’s website, said, “Our immediate focus will be with our youth, and to provide a safe and healthy experience for them this summer as they showcase their hard work and projects. That exhibition will be accomplished by keeping within the CDC and IDPH guidelines, as we all address the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Harms ended his notice with “keep the faith and stay safe!”

Both fair managers emphasized safety in their statements and it’s a good reminder of what we all need to do to support our 4-H and FFA members during the fairs. We know things will be different. Not everyone is going to get into every presentation or show. There may be grandparents or other relatives and friends who don’t make it into an event due to social distance guidelines.

Keep the faith. The events are for the kids who have worked hard to prepare.

Stay safe. As much as one might dislike not being at an event in person, don’t put yourself or others at risk. Each year county fairs rely on people to do their part to make the fairs successful. And while maybe you aren’t someone who volunteers at the fair, think of yourself this year as a volunteer, one who does his or her part by following the rules and guidelines fair officials have asked to be followed.

Our county fairs are lucky to have great people serving on fair boards. And given the decisions that had to be made this year with COVID-19, it’s safe to say being on those boards wasn’t easy this year. We’re lucky to have these people leading the way during these tough times.

And so are the young people of our counties.

— The “Our Opinion” column is the consensus of the editorial board. For information or comments, contact a member of the board: Beth Lutgen, Mary Ungs-Sogaard or Mike Putz