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Farm Show cancellation ominous sign

Thousands of Keystone State farmers are no doubt dismayed over Wednesday’s cancellation of January’s Pennsylvania Farm Show as an in-person event.

The unwanted news also triggered disappointment for the hundreds of thousands of people who look forward to converging on central Pennsylvania each January for what is advertised as the country’s largest agricultural exposition under a single roof.

Some people might brand the change unnecessary, but the attitude of caution behind the decision is laudable, all things considered.

Still, the dreams of numerous young people from area counties about exhibiting animals in person at the big, weeklong statewide event have been dashed, even though the extravaganza will be held under a virtual format.

Likewise, for more than a handful of companies that traditionally display their products at or near the main event — in person — economic losses are inevitable.

But a troubling broader picture has been awakened by Wednesday’s announcement: It is that Farm Show ’21 might be only the first of numerous major economic setbacks that the coronavirus has the potential to deliver during the coming year, if finding a cure or vaccine continues to be elusive.

Meanwhile, before the planned Farm Show week of Jan. 9-15, the final four months of 2020 are destined to be unlike any September-through-December stretch of time today’s generations of Americans have witnessed, or ever could have envisioned.

Even their now-deceased ancestors, many of whom experienced world conflicts, depression and, yes, even a worldwide pandemic, still would be shocked to witness how America has fallen victim to COVID-19 in an age of great medical accomplishments.

Beside the lingering uncertainties and fears surrounding students’ return to classrooms, as well as how extracurricular activities will play out during the new academic year, lurk unhappy realizations that people need to acknowledge and accept.

One is that the coming holiday season is going to be much less joyous than most holiday seasons in memory.

Just like Easter came and went in April, barely noticed, as people, by personal choice or at the behest of religious leaders, refrained from attending church services.

Before that, in late November, there almost certainly will be people lamenting “What’s there to be thankful for?” amid their frustration over not being able to enjoy Thanksgiving in their traditional ways.

And, just as Thanksgiving comes and goes, in many cases without traditional feasts, holiday gift-buying and gift-giving might be less exciting and less extensive, threatening the existence of many brick-and-mortar stores and businesses, some here, many beyond.

Also, not to be forgotten are the Labor Day holiday, which signals the coming end of summer, and Veterans Day, a holiday of many patriotic activities, neither of which is destined to be proverbial carbon copies of prior years’ observances.

Will take-out be the substitute for the many vets who enjoy converging on their favorite restaurants for a free meal on Nov. 11, as well as the camaraderie that such meals have promoted among those who served in all branches of this country’s military?

Thus, from numerous vantage points, the year 2021 will begin on the same sour note upon which 2020 will pass away.

The virtual Farm Show is a daunting signal of that.

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