The Galveston County Fair & Rodeo will hold more than a dozen events this week, but only a few people will be able to attend the livestock shows, art shows and other events slated to make up the 2021 fair.
Fair organizers Monday reiterated their plans to move forward with a limited schedule this week because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first livestock show — a junior-level breeding beef cattle competition — will be held Friday. It’s the first in a series of livestock, art and other shows to be held through April 24.
Attendance at the fair is limited to exhibitors, their families, agricultural teachers, fair employees and volunteers, officials said.
“We’re very fortunate to welcome those kids onto the property,” spokeswoman Barbara Robertson said. “It is limited attendance, but at the end of the day, they get to display or exhibit their hard work.”
The fair and rodeo began last weekend with the annual barbecue cook-off and events including mutton bustin’.
Events are more spread out than normal, both in distance and time, Robertson said. In a normal fair year, animals often would spend multiple nights on the fairground before they and their owners compete; this year animals are being checked in groups and are spending no more than one night on the grounds.
“Typically the kids come down and bed down the animals and prepare for a couple days of showing,” Robertson said. “This year, most of them are going to be what we refer to as ‘show and go.’ They’ll show them and then they’re off the property.”
But the fair will livestream the competitions for the first time, so anyone can watch them remotely, Robertson said. The fair is using the website cattleinmotion.com to broadcast the shows.
Fair organizers had anticipated limiting attendance as early as January because of precautions and recommendations about gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Robertson said. The limited attendance plan was dubbed “Plan B” because “Plan A” was to have a full-attendance event, Robertson said.
Plan A never emerged as COVID infections increased during the winter and only recently began to decline. Active cases of COVID-19 in Galveston County began to decline in February. The 2,743 active cases on Monday still was higher than the number of active cases reported in October and November.
The Plan B decision means this year’s event wouldn’t include a carnival, a fair King and Queen contest, a talent contest or special days for school children or senior citizens.
The fair and rodeo was canceled completely in 2020 as the coronavirus was just beginning to emerge in the country.