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Osprey nest at Keyport’s Fireman’s Park

An osprey nest at Keyport’s Fireman’s Park has caused the town to postpone its Fireman’s Fair.

Dan Radel, Asbury Park Press

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – There are extra waves of excitement for the Monmouth County Fair this year — and it’s not just from the Tilt-a-Whirl.

The annual summertime treat is returning to the East Freehold Showgrounds next week after COVID-19 canceled the fair for 2020.

“People are very excited that we are back,” said Karen Livingstone, the spokeswoman for the Monmouth County Parks System, which hosts the fair in cooperation with the Monmouth County 4-H Association.

The opening of the Monmouth County Fair comes as the pandemic forced the cancellation of the Ocean County Fair, which would have been this week, for the second year in the row. Ocean County’s announcement came in April.

The Ocean County Fair typically takes place a week before Monmouth County’s Fair.

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The Monmouth County park system began organizing the 2021 Monmouth County Fair a year in advance, the typical planning time for the annual event, Livingstone said.

The fair organizing team also had an eye on the COVID-19 pandemic and set a May 15 deadline to decide if the conditions would be safe to move ahead with the event, which typically draws about 75,000 people.

With a strong vaccination program underway and cases down as a result, Monmouth County Commissioners and the Board of Recreation Commissioners gave the go-ahead for the fair to proceed. 

“We were prepared to go straight forward based on the decision and status of COVID-19,” Livingstone said. “When we got the decision we went forward with everything we have for the fair.”

And much of that includes beloved staples of the fair like the 4-H programs, the food and ride vendors, the Bwana Jim Wildlife Show and Robinson’s Racing Pigs.

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The first night of the fair — Wednesday, July 21 — kicks off with a fireworks show at 9:15 p.m.

The county has had more interest in applications for events like the Home & Garden Competition, Livingstone said. It won’t be clear until this weekend when participants drop off their entries for judging if more people will be showing off the results of gardening or craftwork skills they picked up during the pandemic. 

The Monmouth County Fair added some updates that allow guests to avoid lines where possible, Livingstone said. 

Fairgoers can purchase their entrance tickets in advance and at a discount through the Viply mobile app. Likewise, those who plan to go on rides can also buy daily wristbands in advance through the ride vendor’s website.

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The advance sale for ride wristbands ends July 20, but will also be available at ticket booths onsite. 

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Susanne Cervenka covers Monmouth County government and property tax issues, winning several state and regional awards for her work. She’s covered local government for 15 years, with stops in Ohio and Florida before arriving in New Jersey in 2013. Contact her at @scervenka; 732-643-4229; [email protected].

Source: Asbury Park

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