CAMBRIDGE — For what may be the first time ever, there will be no Henry County Fair this summer. The Henry County Fair Board issued a statement Thursday that the 161st edition of the event has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


No queen pageant, no livestock shows, no demolition derby.


The only other time the fair came close to closing was in 1986. A community effort raised the money needed to rescue the event from bankruptcy. When that was done, the fair board at the time promised the people of Henry County they would run the fair "like a business" and show a profit.


A few years later, the rain started on Monday and didn't end until Friday, but the Ferris wheel started up on Saturday and the crowds poured in for a two-day fair. With the help of good rain insurance, and packed midway on Saturday and Sunday, the fair showed profit of $73 and change.


In 1942, a tornado destroyed the buildings on the fairgrounds in the spring, but tents were put up so the fair could go on that summer. In 1988, the fair was almost shut down by a week of 100-plus temperatures that kept crowds away and killed livestock in the barns.


In 1989, the fair was moved to the June dates and enjoyed more moderate weather, making it one of the first county fairs of the season held in Illinois.


This year's Henry County Fair was scheduled for June 23-27.


"This was not an easy decision to arrive at, but felt it was in the best interest of our county, exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, volunteers, and all fairgoers," said a statement posted on the fair's website. "With the most recent state announcements for Restore Illinois and the slow progression towards Phase 5, it would not be possible or financially feasible to hold gatherings as large as our events throughout the week," the statement read.


"We are as disappointed as you and a tremendous amount of planning had gone into bringing you an amazing fair this year. We will soon shift gears and set our sights on bringing you a bigger and better fair in 2021!"


For those of you who had purchased tickets for the Tyler Farr country music concert through Eventbrite (which includes purchases made directly off the fair website), refunds will be made directly back to the purchaser on the card used for purchase, according to the statement.


"For our generous sponsors, we will be reaching out to you soon to discuss options for donations made to our 2020 fair. We will also be taking a pause on our Super Raffle and returning money for ticket purchases already made," the statement said.


"We are uncertain what the future holds, but we will continue to monitor the situation and the fair as we’ve known it over the years will not be taking place in 2020. If restrictions ease over the coming weeks/months, we will explore options for livestock shows and potentially small events and activities to celebrate our county."