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Vendors to lose business as Kentucky State Fair limited to participants only

Only people showing livestock or some agriculture, or taking part in the horse show can enter.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Changes to the Kentucky State Fair mean several vendors will have to adjust.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday the fair will be scaled back, allowing only participants access to the fairgrounds to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Because the change means no concerts, entertainment or most food, longtime vendors like the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association will have to carry on without one of their biggest weeks of the year.

“We’ll take a pretty big hit, just like a lot of the food vendors at the fair,” Executive Vice President Dave Maples said.

The Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association sells about 10,000 rib eye sandwiches at the fair. While some vendors will still be able to set up for fair participants, Maples said business is still going to suffer.

"We’ll [typically] run probably 30 or 40 employees during the fair, and those people don’t get to work," Maples said.

The fair is the biggest event of the year and a long-running tradition for family business Sivori Catering.

 “This is probably the first year since I was four or five years old that I won’t be at the Kentucky State Fair,” owner Larry Sivori said.

Sivori travels throughout the country to fairs and events, and said nearly all have been canceled this summer.

“We thought Kentucky was going to go, and two weeks out they canceled it,” Sivori said.

Outside of vendors, the fair impacts the entire city. According to Louisville Tourism, the fair had a $4.2 million estimated impact last year, which the city will not see in 2020.

But amidst all of the downsides, participants showing livestock, watermelon or pumpkins, or taking part in the horse show can still see their hard work pay off.

"A lot of those kids, they’ve invested a good bit of money into those projects." Maples said. "And I’m so glad that we’re allowing them to come and do that."

The fair runs Aug. 20-30 at the Kentucky Expo Center.

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