Sumter American Legion Fair will not fly this fall, canceled by COVID-19

Posted

All our coronavirus coverage is free to the public. It’s the right thing to do as a public service to our community. If you find this article helpful or informative and want to support our continued coverage, please subscribe or support us with a tax-deductible donation.

To find all our coronavirus coverage, including helpful local resources and website links, click here.

---

COVID-19 has canceled yet another opportunity for families and friends to gather and have fun.

The Sumter American Legion Fair has brought “family-oriented entertainment” to guests from across the Midlands every fall since 1916. This year, it will not.

“While some restrictions have recently been lifted and businesses are beginning to reopen, most are requiring strict safety measures, including social distancing, the wearing of masks and temperature checks. The evidence that this disease spreads quickly and easily when people are in densely populated areas has led several agencies to continue their recommendation to avoid mass gatherings,” Fair Manager Peter St. Onge wrote to The Sumter Item Friday.

He said the decision was not taken lightly and that months of deliberation took place, “considering all options to host a fair that adheres to the highest standard of safety without compromising the experience.”

The fair usually hosts a variety of entertainment and food vendors, from the infamous Potato House fries to a petting zoo to chainsaw sculpting demonstrations to games and rides to high-flying child acrobatics.

St. Onge said he and the fair’s Board of Directors explored “countless” models for ways to adjust the Wednesday-Sunday event in September, but “ultimately safety cannot be compromised.”

“The risks associated with hosting an event of this size and scope right now are just too great,” he said.

South Carolina has recently seen a surge in new cases and hospitalizations, garnering the state to become one of the world’s hot spots. Within the state, Sumter County is among the highest-risk, according to public health officials.

In past years, the fair has welcomed between 21,000 and 25,000 attendees, and proceeds benefit American Legion Post 15, which supports Boys Scout Troop 339, Cub Scout Troop 339, the P-15’s summer baseball team and Legion Riders.