UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State's 2020 Ag Progress Days exposition, which was scheduled for Aug. 11-13, has been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, organizers in the College of Agricultural Sciences announced.
The decision was made out of an abundance of caution to protect the health and safety of event exhibitors, attendees and staff and is consistent with the direction taken by other major Centre County events this summer, such as the Grange Fair, Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and Central PA 4th Fest. It also complies with Gov. Tom Wolf's order that prohibits, until further notice, gatherings of more than 250 people, according to Jesse Darlington, Ag Progress Days manager.
"Although many areas of the state and country are beginning to reopen after the onset of COVID-19, the prospect of inviting up to 50,000 people — who come from all over Pennsylvania and even from out of state — was too much of a risk given how easily this virus spreads," he said. "With the uncertainty of what the situation will look like in August, we don't want to encourage the development of a coronavirus 'hot spot' that could lead to further restrictions on businesses and schools here and elsewhere."
Darlington said that the decision was made now to help commercial exhibitors avoid or minimize the expenses that they might have incurred in planning to exhibit at the event. He said commercial exhibitors that already have paid registration fees will have the option of a full refund or to have their fees applied to their attendance at next year's show, which is scheduled for Aug. 10-12, 2021.
"Our commercial exhibitors largely pay the bills for Ag Progress Days, and we want to support them however we can," Darlington said. "As an essential, life-supporting industry, agriculture is critical to Pennsylvania's economy and the health and well-being of its citizens."
He added that event organizers are exploring ways to connect Ag Progress Days vendors and attendees virtually through the event's website, found at http://apd.psu.edu. Faculty and staff in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension also are looking at providing multimedia content on the website to highlight some of the research, extension programs and demonstrations that would have been featured at the event.
"As part of Pennsylvania's sole land-grant university, we regret that we're losing this opportunity to connect in person with the citizens and businesses that we serve every day," Darlington said. "But in these extraordinary times, it was a decision that had to be made, and we'll plan to be back again in 2021 with an event that will be as educational and rewarding as ever."