OWEGO (WBNG) -- It's been almost two years since the barns at the Tioga County Fairgrounds inside Marvin Park have been filled with horses and livestock ready to compete. Two years since anyone has heard the familiar thud of footsteps on the old grandstand floor, but the Tioga County Fair board hopes that come this summer that's about to change.
"Last year we were sorely disappointed," fair board president Jonathan Marks said of the 2020 Fair that never was.
This year though, the plan is to go ahead with the fair. It's scheduled to run from August 10 through August 14.
"Two nights of demo derbies, the Painted Ponies professional rodeo will be here Tuesday the 10th, we've got the Outlaw Pulling Series, 13th we're planning a full fireworks show," he said.
That means rides and food brought in by the Gillette family, and a full slate of events that will bring visitors and competitors from all over, and with them comes business for Tioga County.
"It's a good economic shot in the arm, it brings a lot of people in, and last (time) we had just shy of 15,000 attendees," he said.
Marks says with an event this complex, the planning has to start early. That means planning without a sense of what COVID-19 guidelines will be, or what infection rates, restrictions, and vaccination rates will look like at that point. He says he hopes by August the county will be to the point where masks and social distancing can be recommended but not required.
He stressed that with the unpredictability of the pandemic there's always the chance they will have to cancel again, but the board has their fingers crossed things will keep heading in the right direction.
"We're waiting for guidelines from the health department, from the Governor's Office," he said, "We did the same thing last year we're doing this year and that's to plan it and if it happens it's probably going to be the biggest event in Tioga County."
Despite the uncertainty regarding guidelines and restrictions, he says the hope is that the stands will be filled once again and fireworks will light up the night sky, bringing with them a sense of normalcy.
"This is big for us, and we anticipate that it'll bring a lot of joy to folks here in Tioga County," he said.
He encourages everyone to keep up with the fair's Facebook page for more updates.