Have Fun While Being Safe at the Clay County Fair

posted by Angel Smith on Friday, September 1, 2023

It’s September and you know what that means – the Clay County Fair will soon be underway! At Clay County Public Health, we want everyone who visits the fair to enjoy all the fun exhibits, entertainment, rides, food, and animals while staying healthy at the same time. 

Unfortunately, after the fair and similar events, our public health office often sees an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses like E. coli and salmonella – typically causing diarrhea and vomiting. One of the main culprits for contracting illness comes from individuals ingesting bacteria due to not thoroughly washing their hands after touching animals or other surfaces around the exhibits.  

With the right precautions, illness can be avoided: 

  • For parents, it is important to monitor your child’s hand-to-mouth activity. Thumbs, fingers, or objects in their mouths when around animal areas can transport germs quickly. Once in the mouth, these germs can multiply and cause illness. Children are most vulnerable to these types of gastrointestinal illnesses, some of which can be very serious. 
  • Avoid taking food or drink into animal areas to reduce the spread of germs. 
  • Leave strollers, toys, pacifiers, and cups outside animal exhibit areas. If you do wander through a livestock barn with your stroller, know that animal waste can get on the stroller, and you guessed it, it goes home with you. It’s a good idea to clean off the stroller when you exit the livestock exhibit. 
  • Always supervise children around animals. Children five years old and younger should not have any contact with reptiles, amphibians, or live poultry because those animals are more likely to make them sick, according to the CDC. 

Other health and safety precautions for fairgoers: 

  • It is always important to protect your skin from sun damage and the risk of skin cancer later in life. It does not matter what the weather is like or the time of year, you can still burn on an overcast day. One blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles your chances of developing melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) later in life. Clay County Public Health will have sunscreen available at Grandpa’s Barn again this year in case you need any. 
  • If you or your child is riding any of the equipment on the midway, please make sure to follow all safety precautions and dress accordingly. Drawstrings, hoods, other loose clothing, and long hair can get caught in equipment and create a dangerous situation. 
  • Be careful around animals – they are in an environment that is very different from their home or farm and may act unpredictably. Please do not pet animals unless given permission. 
  • And while this is very hard to do at the fair, try to avoid distractions. There is so much to see and do, but keep in mind there are often animals being led through an area, along with mobility scooters, golf carts, tractors, and other motorized vehicles. 

If someone becomes ill or injured while at the fair, what should they do? 

  • As always, in case of serious or life-threatening illness or injury – call 911. Dispatchers can get help to you immediately. 
  • There is a First Aid station located on the fairgrounds which is available throughout the week of the fair. 
  • Clay County EMS is also present at the fair from 8 a.m. until after each night’s grandstand performance and Spencer Hospital ambulance and paramedics are onsite for several events throughout the week. 
  • If you become ill a day or two after your fair visit, which is often the case with a gastrointestinal issue, and you need care, contact your primary provider. Please share that you or your child had a recent trip to the fair. Illnesses such as E. coli and salmonella are reportable to public health. 

We want everyone to have fun at the Clay County Fair safely and in good health, so please…wash your hands and put on your sunscreen! 

  1. handwashing

About The Author

Angel Smith

Angel is the Director of Clay County Public Health. She is passionate about serving the community.