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Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma canceled amid outbreak

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The 2020 Sonoma-Marin Fair has been canceled, the latest casualty of the coronavirus shutdown.

The Petaluma event, known around the world for its World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, was slated to take place June 24-28, but after Sonoma County health officials issued revised guidelines this week indicating large gatherings wouldn’t be able to take place this summer, organizers opted to scrap the fair.

The decision, announced Friday, came after the cancellation of far larger fairs across California, including the state fair in Sacramento and the Sonoma County Fair in August.

“We hoped that as the shelter-in-place deadline of May 3 approached, we would be able to move forward with our fair,” CEO Allison Keaney said. “We explored all the options, but we understand that this is the right decision for the safety and well-being of our community.”

It was unclear Friday if the board met to vote on the decision or if it was made at the administrative level.

Keaney said the fair would move forward with an online exhibition for livestock, arts and crafts and other judged competitions. She said organizers were still trying to figure out how to incorporate the World’s Ugliest Dog competition but added, “It doesn’t lend itself to a virtual experience.”

The Sonoma-Marin Fair typically draws 60,000 people over five days to the East Washington Street fairgrounds. It joins a long list of events that have been canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa was called off Tuesday following a unanimous but pained decision by board members that leaves the county without a summer fair for the first time since World War II. Petaluma’s Butter & Egg Days Parade, scheduled for late April, has been postponed until the fall.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” Keaney said. “Everything has been transformed.”

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