Community disappointed after loss of Bradford County's biggest event

Crowds gathered to watch Rosaire’s Royal Racers pig racing at a past Troy Fair.

TROY – The 2020 Troy Fair has been cancelled as of Thursday evening due to the COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, a decision that has left some local disappointment in its wake.

In a post announcing the cancellation on the Troy Fair’s Facebook page Thursday, Troy Fair officials stated that it was not their decision, but one made by the Troy Borough Municipal Authority, the owner of the fairgrounds, that cancelled the biggest event in Bradford County, though authority officials stated it was Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order that kept it from happening this year.

“The Troy Municipal Authority did not make the decision to cancel the 2020 Troy Fair. That decision was made by the governor‘s executive order restricting events in the commonwealth,” Troy Borough Manager Dan Close said. “That order, which carries the same legal authority as law, in combination with the terms of the lease agreement with Alparon Park, make it illegal to hold the 2020 Troy Fair at Alparon Park at this time.”

“The authority is a government entity, which is bound to its duty to operate within the laws and status of governance. Counsel, both internal and outside, have advised the authority that any violation of the law would potentially place officers and directors into a position of vulnerability,” Close continued. “The municipal authority is well aware of the unfortunate loss across the entire community caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular, the extraordinary efforts of everyone committed to Alparon Park and the Troy Fair. Regrettably, the municipal authority had and has one option, and that is to operate legally.”

Troy Fair Board President Cathy Jenkins said this is the first year the Troy Fair has ever been cancelled, noting that it was kept open through even major flooding in 2018.

Jenkins stated that cancelling the 2020 Troy Fair was “so heartbreaking” for board members as planning has taken place for almost an entire year and “some great entertainment and events” were lined up for this year’s festivities.

The fair board has been working diligently with Pennsylvania State Police, Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman, Bradford County Commissioners, attorneys, other fairs and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for the past four weeks to “find a way to have the fair safely with the coronavirus guidelines,” according to Jenkins.

“We felt that we had the answers and were in the process of putting together the safety plan for the fair,” she said. “Unfortunately the fair grounds are owned by the Troy Borough Municipal Authority and they have a lease with Alparon Park that states we can not hold any events that are illegal, they felt that under the governor’s rules it would be illegal for us to open.”

Jenkins said the “heartbreak” associated with the cancellation is not only because of the planning that has been put into this year’s fair, but because the loss of it impacts so many individuals of all ages in the county and beyond.

“It’s so sad to think of the fair not happening this year. lt’s about the kids that raised their project animals in hope to show them or sell them at the fair and then the chance to be with their friends and family and enjoy the rides, games, and food. They have missed so much this year with the virus closing the schools and keeping them home,” Jenkins explained. “We also feel for the farmer who has to struggle over years with low milk prices and this year was worse than ever, they counted on bringing their animals to fair to show and to enjoy the camaraderie in the barns with all the other farmers. For so many of the farmers it was a vacation for them and for some it was the only vacation they would have.”

Jenkins stated that the fair board is also compassionate towards those who will be impacted negatively financially by the cancellation of the fair including food vendors, the amusement company, entertainers, fair employees and local businesses including grocery stores, gas stations, motels and more that often gain large amounts of business from the fair.

“This year most events have been cancelled so they (vendors) had high hopes that the Troy Fair would survive so they would have a place to make some money,” she said. “So many are left without a place to make a living and will they all survive? We hope, but I am sure there will be some that do not. We hope that the fair business can survive through this pandemic.”

Alparon Park itself has also taken a financial hit from COVID-19 cancellations, according to Jenkins, who explained that funds raised through the Troy Fair and other events that have been cancelled, including the Maple Festival, go to maintain the park year round.

Jenkins stated that the park’s budgeted expenses for 2018 totaled $208,000 just for daily costs not including large projects or repairs and that while the park is thankful for campers that have helped supplement some finances Alparon has lost over $33,000 due to COVID-19 cancellations so far this year.

Currently Alparon Park is permitted to host smaller events with crowds of less than 250 such as horse shows and hopes to hold the livestock shows and sale that would normally be part of the Troy Fair, but will not be able to do so unless state restrictions are lifted.

“To look around the fairgrounds and think there will be no laughing children, bright colorful lights, rides, smell of all the great food, the tractors taking off and pulling down the track, the sound of the concert through the grandstands, the bulls bucking and noise of the cars in the demolition derby as they smash into each other, it sure is heartbreaking,” Jenkins commented. “We hope that we can come back stronger in 2021, we are working with all the shows and entertainers to have them come back July 26 through 31, 2021.”

“I personally want to thank the Troy Fair Board of Directors for going above and beyond to work through this tough time, they reflect the international fair theme for 2020; FAIRSTRONG,” Jenkins continued. “Also a special thank you to Rep. Clint Owlett (R-68) and Eric Winters from the Prince Law Firm, and (Bradford County Commissioner) Doug McLinko for helping us all the way!”

Any individuals who have purchased tickets for Troy Fair events will receive refunds or the option to hold the tickets to be honored for the same show in 2021. Vendors scheduled to participate in the 2020 Troy Fair will have deposits refunded or transferred to 2020, all 2020 Troy Fair entry fees will be refunded and any tickets won for the 2020 Troy Fair will be honored at the 2021 Troy Fair.

More information regarding refunds can be found on the Troy Fair’s Facebook page or at www.troyfair.com.

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