Purdue Extension 4-H

WEST LAFAYETTE — A petition that started circulating online this week has more than 6,300 signatures asking Purdue University, and Purdue Extension to modify the recently announced COVID-19 regulations for Indiana County 4-H Fairs for 2020.

Purdue Extension, which works with all 92 counties in Indiana, announced May 15 that county 4-H fairs can occur this summer if local health officials confirm the county has reached the fifth and final stage of state’s “Back on Track “ plan. The last stage is currently set to begin July 4.

However, for 4-H involvement this summer, fairs must follow strict social distancing guidelines, screen employees and volunteers daily who are working with Purdue Extension and follow practices to disinfect “high traffic areas and offering hand sanitizer and clearing stations to employees and guests,” according to a release from Purdue Extension.

There are also guidelines that prevent animals from being housed within six feet of each other, which may prove hard to accomplish for a lot of counties, while participants must wear facemasks at all times, and spectators will be seriously limited for 4-H shows.

The petition states that these requirements should not be made on a statewide basis. “These should be made on a county-by-county basis. Smaller counties already struggle with enrollment numbers and getting people to the fairgrounds. Most counties have open air show arenas,” the petition states. “In these situations facemasks, in particular, should be optional. If counties can space family pens 6-feet apart, livestock should be allowed to be housed throughout the fair week. The use of these guidelines should be left to parents and spectators’ personal choice.”

The petition goes on to state “stop forcing everyone to follow guidelines that do not align with personal beliefs. The medical repercussions of wearing a mask, outdoors, in mid July could be far worse than actual exposure. As humans we can only make suggestions on what others should do for their health and safety, setting forth requirements that aren’t even back by solid scientific research at this point in time, is a violation of basic human rights and unconstitutional. Tell Purdue that you want your county 4-H fair and you want it your way, based on your county, not lumped in with the state as a whole.”

For Newton County, the Newton County Fair Board has announced they are continuing with preparations for the 2020 fair, while Purdue Extension Newton County is looking into its options.

The petition can be found at http://chng.it/WN5hcPgBw9.

The petition is being sent to Purdue University, Purdue Extension, Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Indiana State House, the Human Rights Campaign, and President Donald Trump.