Leaders and Elected Officials Make Difficult Decisions


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Emery County, like most places throughout the country, struggles to deal with the restrictions imposed upon the area because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, many events are scheduled throughout the summer, including the Emery County Fair, Southeastern Utah Junior Livestock Show and city celebrations. With the current restrictions enacted by the Southeast Utah Health Department (SEUHD) and state officials, local officials have had to make very difficult decisions in order to comply with such restrictions.

Emery County traditionally hosts a summer concert that coincides with the Emery County Fair. It also hosts a large vendor area while welcoming performers and visitors from outside the area. With this in consideration, the Emery County Commissioners consulted with the local health department and determined that the format for the concert and fair are not possible under the current restrictions.

While the restrictions may be lifted by the date of the fair, there are many events that require pre-scheduling and deposits. The commissioners did not feel it was in the best interest of Emery County to pay these nonrefundable deposits with the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the motion was made and passed at Emery County Commission Meeting on April 21 to not contract for the concert this year and to cancel the regularly-scheduled Emery County Fair events.

The commissioners decided to keep in contact with the Southeast Utah Health Department to determine if state directives regarding COVID-19 change. If possible, Emery County would like to host some type of fair event to help unite and heal the community. However, such event will likely be much smaller, will involve more local talent and support, and may be coordinated with other municipal events. The commissioners also expressed a desire for such an event to not be a burden on the local business owners, which are the main sponsors of the annual fair, but will help to increase economic activity.

On the other hand, the Southeastern Utah Junior Livestock Show (SEUJLS) is not controlled by Emery County, but is instead organized by the livestock show committee. However, this event is subject to the same restrictions imposed upon the area by state directives and the SEUHD, which brought into question the safety of hosting the event.

The decision to cancel the show was made at the SEUJLS’ April meeting by a vote of 15 to 7. This came after hearing from Bradon Bradford, the SEUHD Health Officer, discuss the specifics of a plan to host the event that would have to be approved by the local health department and the state to meet the requirements of the pandemic at that time.

It was also considered that it was time to start purchasing prizes and supplies for the show in July, which could eventually be cancelled. This led the livestock show committee to the positive cancellation vote. This has been very disappointing to the youth that have spent much time and money preparing their animals for the show. However, like the commissioners, the livestock show committee is looking at other options for the youth to participate.

While the community needs events like these to bring people together and fuel economic growth, the community also needs to follow health directives to protect its residents. Hopefully, these restrictions will be short lived and the community will be able to return to normal.

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