Health Dept. to show off new building at fairgrounds

Morning Journal/ Mary Ann Greier Columbiana County Health District Public Information Officer Laura Fauss and Columbiana County Fair Board President John Wolf stand outside the health department’s new permanent building at the fairgrounds, located next to the restrooms on the midway behind the grandstand.

LISBON — The Columbiana County Health District is encouraging residents to flock to the fair, where personnel are ready to put shots in arms, listen to residents’ pandemic stories and answer any questions they have.

“We’re excited about the fair,” health district Public Information Officer Laura Fauss said Friday.

Despite a low rate of 36 percent of the population being fully vaccinated, she said the county also has a low positivity rate of 2.3 percent of the population, which is good. The seven-day average for positive cases was just five per day between July 19 and 26.

“The risk is relatively low for transmission of the disease,” she said, especially since the event is outdoors and people have the space to social distance.

Plus, all the necessary precautions are in place, with hand washing stations spread out throughout the fairgrounds, hand sanitizing stations and signage used during last year’s junior fair-only event coming back out.

“We’ve worked hand-in-hand with the health department on this,” county Fair Board President John Wolf said.

The health department moved a building used last year for extra storage at the department headquarters on state Route 45 to a permanent spot on the main midway at the fair, next to the newer restrooms near the grandstand.

Fauss said health personnel will be stationed at the booth to administer COVID vaccine from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Both the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Moderna vaccine will be available for fairgoers age 18 and over. For the Moderna, people who partake will need to come to the health department 28 days later for the second dose.

Tents are set up in front of the building, giving visitors a place to come and sit and cool off. While there, Fauss said they want to record the public’s stories from the pandemic, how they coped, how they were affected and what they did during the lockdown. The recordings will be used for a pandemic time capsule, capturing the good, the bad and any opinion people are willing to give.

“We want to be able to talk about it,” she said.

T-shirts or coffee mugs will be given to anyone who receives their vaccination during the fair or participates in the video time capsule.

Free masks will be available, too, at every fair gate and at the CCHD booth, including pediatric masks. Even though it’s inconvenient, the health department continues to recommend that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask, including at the fair.

“Throughout this pandemic, our concerns have remained the same: stop the spread of disease, reduce the effect to the community and protect our vulnerable population. This is why we continue to recommend vaccination to anyone 12 years of age and older,” Fauss said.

Wolf said the hand washing stations are nothing new, especially by the barn areas where there’s a large population during the fair, but they also have disinfectant stations and added some new ones this year. Center Township donated lots of hand sanitizer to the fair. He said it’s been a great effort by the county.

“We’re lucky that we have so many county partners willing to pitch in,” Fauss said.

She encouraged people who are unsure about getting the vaccine to come to the CCHD booth and ask questions. Besides giving the vaccine, they also want to be able to talk with people and answer their questions.

“We’re excited about getting this going full tilt,” Wolf said as he overlooked the fairgrounds.

Last year hurt financially since they could only hold the junior fair. Last year’s livestock auction was online and this year they’ll do a blended auction, with a live feed online and all auctions held in the beef complex.

So far, he said “we’re selling grandstand tickets like crazy.”

There are no restrictions as far as spacing in the grandstand, but he did note some people are buying not only the seats where they’ll sit, but also seats in the next row as a way to create some distance. He said they’ve had great response from vendors and exhibitors, too. By Monday, he said they’ll be ready.

Opening ceremonies kick off at 6 p.m. Monday, with preview night starting at 3 p.m. Monday. Rides open at 1 p.m. Tuesday and continue through Sunday.

For details about the fair, visit columbianacountyfair.com.

“Come have a safe and fun time,” Fauss said.