WEST FARGO, N.D. — For the first time in decades, the Red River Valley Fairgrounds will not host an annual fair.

On Monday, May 11, fair officials said the Red River Valley Fair Executive Board of Directors voted to cancel the 2020 fair in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are following the North Dakota Department of Health’s recommendation and while this decision was difficult, we are looking forward to greater days for the 40th anniversary of the Big Iron Farm Show, which is Sept. 15-17 and we will begin planning for the 2021 Fair," the fair's general manager, Cody Cashman, said in a statement. The 2021 Red River Valley Fair is set for July 13-18, 2021.

The 2020 fair was scheduled to be held July 7-12. The annual fair features a carnival, live music and 4-H demonstrations and livestock judging. Officials said the cancellation decision follows guidance from the state Department of Health.

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"We believe this will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and allow the Red River Valley Fair to plan and implement strategies for combating COVID-19 in the coming year," state Health Officer Mylynn Tufte said in a news release.

Fair officials said all mega pass purchases will be refunded. If you purchased a 2020 mega pass at the fair office or Petro Serve USA gas station, you can bring your ticket to the fair office for a refund. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you purchased a mega pass online, the credit card used to purchase the mega pass will be refunded.

The Red River Valley Fair Association has been hosting the fair since 1905.

"In these unprecedented times, it is for the safety of everyone involved in the Red River Valley Fair that we cancel this year’s Fair," the fair board president, Vern Hofman, said in a statement.

Earlier on Monday, the North Dakota State Fair canceled its 2020 event as well as the 2020 State Parade.

State fair officials said that without a way to predict the scale of the pandemic, the decision is intended to be in the best interest of the health and safety for all involved. Those who bought tickets with a credit card will be automatically refunded.