COLUMBUS, Ohio — Once again, many Ohioans won't be able to enjoy a beloved summer event because of the pandemic: The Ohio State Fair. 

The Ohio Expositions Commission announced Thursday the fair will be closed off to the public, and it will only allow individuals competing in shows, their families and livestock on the ground. They said they made the call based on financial implications, expressing worry not only about COVID-19 spread, but also that adhering to COVID-19 protocols may cost the fair more money in the end. 

“The important safety protocols that have been put in place to protect Ohioans, like indoor seating capacities, may lead to attendance that is considerably lower than previous years,” said General Manager Virgil Strickler. “The financial ramifications of hosting a typical Ohio State Fair with the same overhead costs, but far less revenue, could be devastating to our organization. In a typical year, the Ohio State Fair’s budget is designed to break even, with a nominal profit, if any. Hosting a full fair this year would likely lead to significant financial loss.”

Fair officials said they expect to make a return in 2022 with rides, concerts, entertainers, live music, food vendors. Livestock competitions for this year are scheduled for July 19 through August 8. The deadline to enter livestock competitions is June 20.