Butler County files lawsuit involving Gov. Wolf over other events in Pa. allowed to continue

BUTLER, Pa. — For the first time in 165 years, the Big Butler Fair shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, but organizers want to know why they had to close up while other events went on.

“The favoritism that was pulled out at the other end of the state, it hurts,” said one of the fair’s directors, Harold Kennedy.

With the state in the green phase, outdoor events are limited to 250 people and indoor events can have 25. Butler County leaders said they are playing by the rules, but others aren’t. In June, a car show was scheduled in Carlisle. Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine filed an injunction to shut it down. Within days, both sides came to an agreement and the show continued with hundreds of cars and hundreds of people.

When Butler County leaders asked for details about how the event was able to take place, they were reportedly told the deal wasn’t for public knowledge. County officials filed a lawsuit to find out. The agreement said the promoter and the state agreed to limit the event to 20,000 people, which was 50% capacity. Certain events and attractions were also eliminated.

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“What is suggests is that somehow or another, through litigation of whatever, the case is you can cut a deal in order to have an event and that’s certainly not how this should be,” said Commissioner Leslie Osche.

Osche said when it comes to the economy, the leaders in Harrisburg are playing favorites.

“How much are we losing not just in the event itself but in the economic impact of that event and all the people coming in,” Osche said.

Gov. Wolf and the Department of Health have not responded to a request for comment.