It’s opening day for the North Texas Fair and Rodeo.
The City of Denton approved the event after organizers presented a comprehensive COVID-19 plan.
Similar events, like the State Fair of Texas and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, have been forced to cancel in recent months because of the pandemic, but this fair found a way to continue the 92-year tradition.
“We’re 5% of their size,” said Glenn Carlton, the executive director of the North Texas Fair and Rodeo. “We’re not near the size of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. It’s flattering to be compared to them. It’s a great organization and event, and they’re an indoor event. They’re putting everybody in the coliseum. We are an outdoor event.”
Even though the fair is mostly held outdoors, masks are required.
There’s hand sanitizer stations set up throughout the fairgrounds, along with signs encouraging people to stay six feet apart.
A professional company will be sanitizing the entire fairgrounds once a day, and high touch areas like rides and restrooms will be constantly cleaned.
“I think people are excited about an entertainment option they haven’t had for months, and we’re doing everything we can to make it safe so people can enjoy it,”Carlton said. “I think people are really ready for that.”
More than 20,000 people will be allowed on the fairgrounds, but attendance inside the rodeo arena will be capped at 50 percent, which means only 2,000 people can sit in the stands.
The area right in front of the concert stages will also be barricaded. Security will only let about 900 people in so they can maintain proper social distance.
“Expect what you expect when you go to the grocery store,” said Carlton. “You just got to follow the rules for everybody’s safety. We’re not putting rules in place to be mean, we want people to be safe and still offer the fun entertainment.”
The fair added an overflow area with a big screen TV this year, so people can space out and safely watch the rodeo events or the bands if they can’t see them in person.
Food vendors are excited for the opportunity to recoup some of their losses from so many cancelled events.
“We’re down a lot,” said Daniel Cardenas with Bobby’s Fajitas. “Usually we’re so busy in the summertime, but with everything going on, we haven’t done anything. It’s been super, super slow.”
Cardenas expects to be busy this weekend, with the nice weather and people itching for a chance to get out of the house.
“It’s been rocky, but we’re here,” he said. “We’re ready to go and Bobby’s Fajitas is awesome so I think we’ll do really, really good this weekend.”
The fair and rodeo runs through Saturday, Oct. 24.