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story.lead_photo.caption The Four States Fair & Rodeo has been postponed until April. Youth livestock shows, however, will go on as scheduled in September. (Gazette file photo)

TEXARKANA, Ark. — With a health crisis persisting in the region and beyond, the next Four States Fair & Rodeo won't happen until April, rather than its typical September slot this year.

The fairgrounds staff announced the move on social media last week, and the fair's top official said the board made the right decision in light of what's happening with the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce that we will be postponing the Annual Fair and Rodeo Carnival, PRCA Rodeo, Demo Derby and exhibits from September to April 2-11, 2021," the Fair and Rodeo stated on its Facebook page. "Our livestock shows will remain in September."

Brent Talley, president and CEO at the Four States Fair, said early this week that only a decision about postponing this year's fair has been reached so far. They're making these decisions one step at a time.

"That decision does not come lightly. It comes after a lot of consideration of looking at other options in what we can do. At this point there's just no other option we felt like was a good decision to do with COVID and numbers that are going on in our community," said Talley.

With a focus on family, fun, food and entertainment, he explained, it's difficult to do those time-honored fair activities under the COVID restrictions in place now and possibly in September. Scheduling anything with large crowds right now is a challenge.

"We're blessed with having over 10,000 people a day at the fairgrounds during the fair," Talley said. Holding the fair wouldn't be the best decision for workers, patrons and the community.

They considered not having ticketed events instead. "The fair has not held a ticketed event since we reopened in May after the original shutdown," Talley said, but with the COVID numbers developing, they feel the best thing is to postpone the entire event.

"Before you don't lose the whole environment of the fair by just having bits and pieces of it," Talley said. They're iconic events people associate with the fair.

"People I've talked to talk about their first official date was at the Four States Fair, and everybody across this region has got some story about the fair," Talley said.

The annual livestock show will still be a go, though, with the timing being essential for the young people who've raised these animals and invested their time and energy, he said.

"Right now we are moving forward with a plan to have the Four States Livestock Show Sept. 11-20," Talley said. Junior cattle check-in will start that Friday with the show on Saturday, then proceed from there with open cattle, pigs and lambs, and a cattle breed show at the end of the week.

"The typical livestock shows we normally have during the fair, but we're able to distance and being able to have those events successfully even during the COVID," Talley said, noting also that it's the right time of the year for the youth who've raised these livestock.

He said the only official decision made at this point is to postpone this year's fair to April, but they haven't finalized plans for September of next year.

"We're certainly glad to be part of this community, glad to be part of the heritage of this great, iconic event for a reason. And certainly hate we're having to postpone it," Talley said.

(More info: FourStatesFair.com or 870-773-2941.)

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