North Carolina Mountain State Fair canceled due to COVID-19

Brittany Buckner, 4, left, and Alex Parker, 10, attempt to buy a handfull of feed as an impatient billygoat waits to be fed at the petting zoo exhibit at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair near Asheville, N.C., in this undated file photo. (AP Photo/Alan Marler)

FLETCHER — North Carolina’s agriculture commissioner announced Tuesday that the 2020 Mountain State Fair has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fair was scheduled to take place from Sept. 11-20 at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher.

Commissioner Steve Troxler cited the health and safety of visitors and staff and said social distancing would be difficult to enforce, news outlets reported. The event has drawn more than 60,000 people during past opening weekends and drew 171,000 total visitors last year.

This is the first year since the fair was founded nearly three decades ago that the event has been completely canceled, Troxler added.

Last year, a hot tub display in the agricultural center during the fair was linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Four people died and more than 130 cases were confirmed, 96 of which required hospitalization, according to a report from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources.

Legionnaire’s disease is a form of bacterial pneumonia, or lung infection. It can be treated with antibiotics.