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COVID-19 forces cancellation of Maui Fair

Riders take a spin on the swings during the 97th Maui Fair in October. Maui County and the Maui Fair Alliance announced Thursday that this year's fair will be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The 98th Maui Fair has been postponed till next year due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, according to fair officials and Mayor Michael Victorino.

Maui County asked the Maui Fair Alliance not to hold the annual event, which draws about 90,000 people every year to the War Memorial Complex for four days of food, contests, rides and games. The parade has also been canceled.

“I’m feeling really empty right now knowing that we won’t be able to gather as a community,” Avery Chumbley, president of the Maui Fair Alliance told The Maui News. “There’s been generations of kids that have grown up looking forward to the fair.”

While cases of COVID-19 have been declining across the state and businesses have started to reopen, Chumbley said that public health and financial concerns led to the decision to cancel the event, which was slated for Oct. 1 to 4. He said fair officials aren’t sure what the limitations on public gatherings will by then and whether Maui will get caught up in a second wave of cases. And, with many residents unemployed, families may be reluctant to shell out the money for a weekend at the fair.

Victorino said during a news conference Thursday that it was “a very difficult decision,” but given the need to protect citizens and uncertainty over the future, “we weren’t going to take that chance.”

Maui High School's marching band performs during the parade at the 96th Maui Fair in 2018. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Since the first one in 1916, the Maui Fair has only been canceled a handful of times — once during World War I and three times during World War II, Chumbley said.

A young fairgoer enjoys the Fun Zone on opening night of the 95th Maui Fair in 2017. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

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