PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s opening night at the Pasco County Fair, and hundreds showed up to enjoy all the fair has to offer. But this year looks a bit different.
Some fairgoers are wearing masks, though that is not required on the midway, only in exhibit buildings, and most are keeping their distance.
Robin Penix brought her grandchildren. All were wearing masks.
“Yes we are having fun,” said Penix. “As you can see me and the granddaughters are wearing masks, so we’re good.”
Vendors who’ve been hit hard by the pandemic, have been looking forward to the return of fairs and other outdoor festivities for months. Eddie Porcelli, also known as “Spaghetti Eddie” is one of them.
“To be told you can’t do this, and you can’t do this, and you can’t earn a living,” said Porcelli. “Not knowing where your next food, paycheck is going to come from, I have insurance bills to pay, I have mortgages to pay. “
Fair organizers have been in contact with representatives from other fairs across the state to join heads to find out what works and what doesn’t in the COVID-19 world in which we are all living.
They are on a weekly conference call that sometimes lasts for hours. Eight on Your Side contacted Michael Rogalsky, the chief operations officer with the Florida State Fair, who confirmed he too is on that call.
RJ Huss explains that there is a lot going on behind the scenes to make sure fairgoers are safe.
“We also invested in a fogging machine, we tripled the amount of hand sanitizing stations throughout the fair,” said Huss. “You can see a lot of signage. I think people have gotten used to the mask idea.”
But, not everyone is ready for the crowds in a relatively confined area. Althea Harris says she’s going to take a pass this year.
“I feel like, although I’m standing here without a mask, I feel like not everyone around me is as concerned about COVID as I am,” Harris said.
For more information on the Pasco County Fair, including hours and pricing you can check out their website.