The South Plains Fair has been a Lubbock tradition since 1914 and continued amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The fair opened Thursday and will run till Oct 3. at the Panhandle South Plains Fairground Parking is $5, and admissions are $10. Tickets are $1 each.
Fair management produced a 63-page proposal filled with COVID-19 safety precautions and regulations. Jennifer Wallace, Fair general manager, said. The fair was able to take place with a strict mask order and over 150 hand sanitizing stations found all over the grounds.
“We really still wanted to have the fair because it’s tradition,” Wallace said. “Lubbock’s non-profit organizations and vendors always come and set up within the fairgrounds, and so we really wanted to be able to still offer them that opportunity. COVID-19 has them struggling with money and name-recognition, and so we really wanted to help them out.”
In addition to a mask order and hand sanitizer stations, there are also hand-washing stations set up, and overnight the fairgrounds are fogged with a hand sanitizer mixture to supply extra safety precautions, Wallace said.
“Our goal is to make sure that our fairgoers and employees are safe,” Wallace said. “We also gave our vendors and food suppliers a choice or whether they wanted to come set up or not. About 20% of them decided not to participate, and of course, we understand. Safety comes first.”
Changes also include the temporary closing of the colosseum and the women’s building, Wallace said.
“Capacity was too difficult to work around in the colosseum, so we just decided to forgo it this year,” Wallace said. “As for the women’s building, most of those volunteers are ages 65 and up, and we did not want to put them in any danger, so we also gave them a choice. Many of them declined to participate.”
The West Carlisle Volunteer Fire Department was one of the non-profit organizations that did choose to fundraise at the fair this year, Wallace said.
“This fair is how we help pay for our equipment,” David Poe, firefighter paramedic said. “Lubbock County gives us a check, but it only covers half of our fuel for the fire trucks. This fundraiser is how we get the money for the other half of the fuel, and for anything else the department might need.”
Sundance Company, based in Edgewood, New Mexico, was one of the many vendors that chose to take part in this year’s fair as well.
“Because of COVID-19, we’ve had all of our shows and events canceled, and so we haven’t really been making a profit on our wares,” Isabel Martin, a Sundance co-owner said. “After hearing this fair was still going to happen, we really wanted to come down and set up and try to earn some of our money back.”
Admissions were free the first night of the fair, Martin said. The crowds were “great for business, and everyone had a good time.
“We did make a lot of money when we were setting up the booth that night,” she said. “It was really encouraging to see, and I’m excited to see how much more business we draw in.”
Kailie Gray, a junior nursing major From Danville, California, said. That even amongst the COVID-19 pandemic, the fair was still a great experience.
“It’s been a good time,” Gray said. “I’ve had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends and just letting loose, which can be difficult to do with the pandemic we’re living through.”
Gray said that seeing all the masked faces was interesting but following the COVID-19 safety precautions is for safety.
“It’s kind of weird to see everyone walking around in masks, but it doesn’t seem to really deter anyone,” Gray said. “However, the fair feels a little empty, but it is nice because there is no crowding, and the lines are shorter. It really makes for a great time.”