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Lifest canceled for 2020; Shawano to hold its county fair

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Lifest 2019 is in full swing. Lifest organizers said they’re anticipating 25,000 people a day. Some of the attendees have had their chairs set up since the gates opened at 9 a.m. July 11, 2019. (WLUK){ }

(WLUK) -- “That’s what I’ve been hearing all the time the last 3-4 weeks, ‘are we having a fair? Are we having a fair?’” said Shawano's Agricultural Society President Dale Hodkiewicz.

That answer is yes.

The Agricultural Society, which runs the fairgrounds in Shawano County, voted unanimously Monday night to have a fair the first week in September.

“We just felt that it’s very important for the community to have an event," said Hodkiewicz. "If you look behind me, all those buildings, those are all nonprofit organizations and that’s their main fundraiser for the year.”

According to the DHS's website, Shawano County has had 64 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the middle of March.

“We’re telling people, if you’re not comfortable then stay home. Bottom line,” said Hodkiewicz.

He said since health officials gave the fairgrounds the green light to open its Speedwayup and open it up to fans at the end of May, they've used it as a model for what they can expect in September.

“People have been very conscious of what’s going on,' said Hodkiewicz. "Food lines have been stretched out longer, because people are not standing on top of each other, but they’re doing a really nice job. I think overall, by the time the fair comes around, people are going to be doing that kind of stuff.”

It's a different story for Lifest, one of the biggest music festivals in Winnebago County.

“Really, we just ran out of time," said festival director John Dougherty. "There was no way our event was going to fit within the parameters of reopening and we felt based not on the current spikes within Winnebago County specifically, but other little hotspots around the area, that it really wasn’t in the best interest of Winnebago County or our attendees.”

Lifest organizers say they were planning to spread out camp sites and concert areas.

“I think we could have done those minimum social distancing requirements, but it really comes down to, to go to the main venue at the Sunnyview Expo Center, everybody’s got to go through a ticket tent and then everybody’s got to go to one of the three entrances and you’re just going to create these massive pinch points,” said Dougherty.

Life Promotions, the nonprofit organization that runs the festival, says the event raises half of the nonprofit organization's fundraising every year. Organizers say attendees can either move their tickets to 2021, donate tickets and get a tax deductible donation, or contact Lifest by July 1st to get a refund.

Life Promotions says the festival will return in 2021.

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