Night falls at the fair.

Well, this one really hurts.

The city of Winston-Salem announced on Tuesday that it has canceled the Carolina Classic Fair, to be held for 10 days in October, because of the rising trend in positive COVID-19 cases in Forsyth County and elsewhere in the state.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina State Fair followed suit.

The city had considered a pared-down version of the fair that would have hosted a smaller crowd with increased social-distancing features, but eventually decided to take the safest course.

A lot of entertainment options have been diminished because of coronavirus, from sports to movie theaters. Their reductions and cancellations will have significant repercussions, perhaps for years to come.

But the fair carries more of a total-community vibe than almost any other event. It’s disappointing to think that none of the attractions we’ve enjoyed for decades — the thrilling rides, the midway games, the craft and culinary displays, the farm animals, the junky food, the cheesy shows, the crowds — will be a part of our fall traditions this year. Already, we feel the loss.

But it’s the right thing to do. With expectations of around 300,000 fair visitors and the number of COVID-19 cases still high, there was just no way to eliminate the risk of spreading the virus, even with masks all around and a hand-washing station next to every corndog stand. It’s unfortunate that we can’t expect a clear end to the worst risks of the virus by October. But it’s realistic.

“Unfortunately, the numbers are not trending in our favor,” Mayor Allen Joines said. “We will look forward to celebrating the new name of the Carolina Classic Fair and putting on a fair second to none in 2021. We want our citizens and visitors to Forsyth County to be safe and healthy so that we can look forward to this great event next fall.”

We do look forward to 2021, for many reasons, and certainly hope to return to a bigger, bolder fair then.

City staff estimates that canceling the fair will result in a loss of $670,000 for the year, the Journal reported. That smarts. But fairground reserves will allow the city to absorb the loss this year, Assistant City Manager Ben Rowe told the Journal.

Though we’re months away, this is the right time to make the decision. Fairs, like political conventions and other large functions, require a great deal of preparation.

Sad to say, trick-or-treating on Halloween will likely be very different this year, also.

Despite the loss, it’s encouraging to learn that the fairgrounds staff will be looking for ways to hold certain aspects of the fair virtually.

“It might be where people can show their arts and crafts online,” Rowe told the Journal. “People have put a lot of time into those things.”

Time — and anticipation.

City officials plan to post updates online at carolinaclassicfair.com. We look forward to seeing what they come up with.

We encourage the fairgrounds staff and other residents of the City of Arts and Innovation to be imaginative and come up with creative options for fall celebrations — including, perhaps, some way to gather in smaller crowds, if it can be done safely.

The fair is always good for some cheerful fun. We expect it to be so again in 2021.

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