LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky State Fair is a big deal to Madison Goodlett of Spencer County.

“I’ve grown up with an agriculture background, and especially around animal agriculture, raising cattle with my family,” Goodlett said. “It’s a passion thing and it’s something that has a special place in my heart.”

She said the week of the fair is the happiest week of her whole year.

“It’s the one time of the year where we’re all together, and it’s one time where we can all have fun and see each other and just make the best memories, whether we’re eating greasy fair food or we’re just talking late at night after a show or playing cards,” Goodlett said. “It’s a time that everyone looks forward to and every kid looks forward to in the stock show industry.”

But this year, things will be different.

Goodlett will still be able to show off her pigs and lamb, but the only people to see them will be other participants.

The Kentucky State Fair will be closed to the public following a decision by The Kentucky State Fair board.

Goodlett is an alumni member of the FFA, one of the groups holding livestock shows at the fair.

Kentucky FFA Association executive secretary Matt Chaliff said he’s just relieved they’re having a fair at all.

“When we were talking about this in March, everybody assumed the pandemic would be over in six weeks or eight weeks, so we felt like the fair would be very much be a normal affair,” Chaliff said. “That has obviously, as times went on and the virus numbers have gotten worse, that has gotten worse and worse. There was talk in May and early June that there might not be a fair at all.”

But the fair will still go on with several changes.

Goodlett said in previous years, she and several others would actually sleep at the fairgrounds.

“Whether I was on an air mattress in the corner in a tent, or I was on a cot or just a lawn chair sleeping, it just gave me peace of mind that I was there with my animals in case something happened,” Goodlett said.

But since that’s not allowed this year, she’ll have to drive back and forth between the fairgrounds in Louisville, her home in Shelby County, and the University of Kentucky, where she’s going to be a freshman, furthering her career in agriculture.

She still expects to see many of her friends at the fair, though.

“There have been a lot of changes and a lot of things that have been taken away but kids in Kentucky are still getting to show, they’re still getting to exhibit their projects that they have worked so hard on,” Goodlett said. “Despite the circumstances and despite the new regulations, we’re going to get to show, and you won’t meet a kid happier than a stock show kid in August at the Kentucky State Fair.”

The fair runs August 20-30.