2020 Salem Fair cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

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For the last 32 years, the Salem Fair has usually attracted more than 250,000 attendees.

In its 30 plus years of existence, the Salem Fair has managed to outlast oppressive heat, gale force winds and torrential downpours, but the invisible Coronavirus has finally forced the region’s most popular summer event to close its gates. On May 11, the 2020 edition of the Salem Fair was officially cancelled.

“This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made in the best interest of our entire community,” said Wendy Delano, Salem’s Director of Civic Facilities. “We looked at a number of paths moving forward, but each one was blocked by the uncertainty of COVID-19. This is the only decision that will ensure the health and safety of our loyal fairgoers, our vendors, our staff members and the many volunteers, who make the fair happen.”

The Salem Fair began in 1988 and it attracts an estimated 300,000 attendees to Virginia’s Blue Ridge region each year. The 2020 fair was scheduled for July 1-12 at the Taliaferro Complex.

“When you have done this as many years as we have, you think you have seen it all,” said Carey Harveycutter, Salem Fair Manager. “The fair takes months and months of planning and while we are all extremely disappointed, the unknowns associated with staging an event of this magnitude, at this particular time, are simply too great. We feel badly for everyone, but we will be back.”

Salem officials have been monitoring Governor Ralph Northam’s guidelines for reopening the state and consulting with local and state health officials for weeks. In the end, the inability to guarantee the safety of all involved and the difficulty of finding a path to profitability made cancelling the most logical option.

“People are the most valuable resource we have and there are just too many things out of our control to create a safe environment for them this summer,” said Jay Taliaferro, Salem City Manager. “We will now focus on 2021 and work with Deggeller Attractions to bring the fair back to Salem bigger and better than ever next year.”


  • Submitted by Mike Stevens, City of Salem Communications Director

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