Despite COVID-19, Platte County will keep title of longest running fair west of the Mississippi

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PLATTE CITY, Mo. — It’s a tradition that dates back to the Civil War. The very first Platte County Fair, held in 1863, will now have some similarities to the fair planned for the weekend of July 24.

“Just kind of going back to the basics, the way it was 157 years ago,” said Rick Hill, president of the Platte County Fair.

Like the first fair in the county, the event will have a shortened three-day schedule, instead of the usual four. And many of the usual crowd-pleasing attractions simply aren’t possible in the age of social distancing.

“We normally have a demolition derby, truck and tractor pull, and a mud-a-thon, and of course a carnival with all the concessions you can imagine with bands,” Hill said. “This year there’s no concessions, no bands, no carnival.”

The grandstands will remain empty, and everyone inside the 4-H building will have to wear a mask.

Even so, the show will go on, which means the Platte County Fair’s notable distinction as the longest-running summer fair west of the Mississippi will continue.

“Our forefathers went through the Great Depression and two World Wars, so we’re going to move forward with the COVID, and do the same thing,” Hill said.

While the tradition means a great deal, Hill acknowledged some difficult discussions in the previous weeks about whether to hold the fair.

“It was a long, tough decision and with a lot of work with the Platte County Health Department, we felt like, with as big as the fairgrounds are, we could spread everybody out. Social distancing will be practiced; masks will be required,” Smith said.

“And we’re going to have a fair.”

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