The San Benito County Fair announced Monday it will cancel the poultry show for the 2019 event in early October.
Other fairs in California have canceled poultry shows due to Virulent Newcastle Disease, which is fatal to the birds but not harmful to humans. Since May of 2018, there has been an outbreak with hundreds of cases in Southern California, but just one in Northern California, according to the California Department of Food & Agriculture.
The fair board of directors made the call on canceling the poultry show, with the announcement coming Monday.
“The California Department of Food & Agriculture has been watching it really closely,” said Dara Tobias, the San Benito County Fair manager.
She noted how the state agency had been recommending such precaution for local fairs – canceling poultry exhibits – but the state never required it, Tobias said.
She mentioned how neighboring fairs, such as those in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, have canceled poultry shows as well.
That’s because there’s concern about the potential spread of the disease.
“The biggest fear is our commercial poultry flocks,” Tobias said. “You could decimate a commercial flock.”
Tobias said fair officials understand it’s disappointing for youths raising poultry.
“We just decided in order to give the kids time to start another project, if they wanted to, we needed to make a decision and let them know,” Tobias said.
The San Benito County Fair is set for Oct. 3-6 at Bolado Park. Livestock exhibits and activities like the poultry show are widely considered the heart of the local fair in agricultural-rich San Benito County.