Dubuque County Fair back in full force as local health officials express concern over slow increase in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 9:56 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Donald Nash and his family are bringing their stilts to the Dubuque County Fair for the first time.

“This is our wonderful stilt party,” Nash said, while demonstrating. “We teach the kids how to come out and walk on stilts and it is a wonderful opportunity to watch people sit there and say, ‘I cannot’ and watch them eventually say, ‘I can’.”

Setting up shop at the Dubuque County fairgrounds is something Nash said is worth celebrating, especially considering how hard last year was for business.

“Unfortunately last year we were pretty much shut down, you know, we deal with people of a hundred or more, so it just did not function with us last year,” he explained. “We actually had to go out and get jobs. Really, we were afraid that we were not going to be able to bring our careers back and we are so excited to have our careers back this year.”

Looking from just a couple of feet away and sharing that excitement was Kevin Kotz, the fairgrounds’ general manager.

”Just standing out here watching the kids having fun over here in the bubble machine and walking on the stilts, I think that is the biggest excitement,” Kotz said. “Seeing all the families and friends that you have not seen for a couple of years now come back out to the fair.”

Kotz said they have been getting ready for this day, the opener, for months. He mentioned they are bringing back the carnival, with a Mardi Gras theme, and concerts, both things they canceled last year because of the pandemic.

However, as COVID-19 cases slowly increase in Dubuque County, these large gatherings bring up a worry for health leaders.

”At the start of July we started to see a slight increase in cases and that is the age group were concerned about, the 19 to 29-year-old age range,” Patrice Lambert, the county’s public health director, said.

As of last week, Dubuque County reported 62 active cases, which is the first increase in the number of active cases since mid-April. That is why Lambert said they are still putting out the call for people, especially younger people, to get vaccinated.

”Every day is a concern because we do not know what the future is going to hold,” Lambert said. “So what the incident management team is going to do is go to the events where people are to give the vaccine, such as the county fair.”

Lambert said those who feel sick should not go to the county fair and should, instead, get tested for the virus. She also recommends those who do visit the fair take advantage of the hand sanitizing stations at the fairgrounds this week.

Kotz added social distancing will be an option at the fairgrounds since it is a 99 acres space.

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