The State Fair of Texas opens in 30 days, and the team is working to ensure a safe environment for fairgoers this year.
According to Fair officials, those who attend the Fair should be willing to follow the relevant health guidelines in order to slow the spread of the virus.
To keep fairgoers safe, officials recommend getting vaccinated as the majority of all current COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated people. Fair officials said they will not require attendees to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter the Fair, but Dallas County plans to administer the Pfizer vaccine for those who are receiving their first dose, and the Moderna vaccine for people who are receiving their second dose.
Dallas County is also planning to offer an incentive of $20 in State Fair food and ride coupons to those who are eligible and receive their vaccine while at the Fair, officials said.
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Fairgoers should also make an informed decision about attending the Fair and consider their personal health situations and how best to keep themselves and those close to them safe and healthy.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has a webpage regarding COVID-19 with the latest information on testing, vaccinations, symptoms, protecting yourself and others, and more.
According to Fair officials, fairgoers should wear face coverings indoors and in crowded outdoor settings if they are older than age 2 and medically able to wear one.
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Attendees are asked to bring their own masks to the Fair, but a supply will also be available at the gates for for those who forget, Fair officials said.
Fair officials said attendees should also wear face coverings if they take DART or another form of mass transit to the Fair.
Fair leaders say guidelines could still change, depending on the COVID-19 situation.
“It could change for the better or it could change the other way,” said spokesperson Karissa Condoianis.
Condioanis tells NBC 5 there are regular discussions that include medical experts.
As to the decision to not require proof of vaccination or masks, Condioanis says there were possible legal obstacles keeping them from being able to require either.
“We are a private non-profit organization that is operating here in Fair Park in city-owned buildings, so we are not in a place we feel that we can strongly require those vaccinations or [masks] to enter the fair this year,” she said. “We are strongly encouraging those things. We’re not in a place to be able to require any of those items at this time. But we think that Texans will do the right thing. They will show up and they will understand that we have health and safety guidelines and recommendations in place and that they’ll understand that that’s what we need to do in order to host a safe State Fair of Texas this year.”
According to officials, fairgoers should also practice social distancing, spreading out when they can and wear a mask when they can't. Officials said they have created more space in high-traffic areas and are adding more outdoor seating areas.
Attendees should also consider going to the Fair on a weekday instead of a weekend as weekdays are traditionally are much less crowded provide fairgoers with discount admission offers.
Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands frequently. More than 500 free hand sanitizer stations are made available by the State Fair throughout the fairgrounds. Plus, there are hand sanitizing stations throughout the barns and livestock areas, where it's especially important to wash your hands after visiting the animals.
Attendees should also stay home if they are not feeling well or if they have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Anyone who tested positive for COVID-19, experienced symptoms, or was in direct contact with someone who has the virus within the 14 days before attending the Fair should stay home.
There may be fewer fair workers this year. Condioanis says they feel confident they’ll be able to fill hundreds of positions by the time the fair rolls around.
“It definitely has been a struggle,” she said. “This is the first time in my eight years here that I’ve seen it be this difficult to find people to work the fair.”
Condioanis believes the fluid situation and people’s comfort level may be affecting the worker shortage.
Fair officials are recruiting workers in communities. Starting pay is $12.38 an hour.
Click here for more information about job openings.
Health and safety updates will be posted to BigTex.com/COVID.
The 2021 State Fair of Texas opens on Friday, Sept. 24 and runs through Sunday, Oct.17. Season passes and premium tickets can be purchased online at BigTex.com.