MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For months, ever since the arrival of the first COVID-19 case in Minnesota, the state has speculated whether or not 2020 would see a Minnesota State Fair. Now, the board of managers has made it official.
The Minnesota State Fair has, for the first time in three-quarters of a century, been canceled. The next time the State Fair is scheduled to receive excited fairgoers will not be until, at the earliest, August 26, 2021.
“The State Fair needs to be a full-on celebration. That’s what makes it very special for so many of us. … That’s exactly why we can’t have a fair this year. We owe it to you now, and we owe it to posterity to give you the very best that we possibly can in a safe environment. By taking the tough road today, we guarantee that the fair’s future remains hopeful and bright,” State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer said. “We’ve been working hard and doing our very best with preparations for the 2020 State Fair. The picture was cloudy in March, but things have cleared up considerably since then. Right now is the time of year when things need to really take off if we’re going to have a fair, but we can see that we’re out of runway and can’t get off the ground. There will be no State Fair this year.”
GM Jerry Hammer called this a necessary decision, first for public health, second for the future of the Fair. “If somehow we were able to put a fair together, you wouldn’t recognize it.”
— Christiane Cordero (@ChristianeWCCO) May 22, 2020
The last time that happened was back in 1946, due to the polio pandemic. And it was reportedly canceled only four times before that — in 1945 due to travel restrictions during World War II, in 1893 because it was up against the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and in both 1861 and 1862 because of the Civil War and the U.S.-Dakota War.
It’s without question the largest single gathering in the state, and in fact is among the most well-attended state fairs nationwide, with annual attendance tallies lately surpassing 2 million.
Fair officials said that your 2020 admission ticket and concert tickets will be valid for 2021, and no action is necessary. All Grandstand shows have been postponed to 2021, and you will keep the same seat location. However, if you want a refund, the fair’s website can guide you through that process.
The cancellation is a blow both financially and emotionally for many of the hundreds of fair vendors. Dan Wozniak’s family has operated two French fry booths for the past 47 years. He says a scaled back fair would not work.
“I think instead of trying to run it on a partial basis, you don’t want to run it partially. You do it right or you don’t do it at all,” he said.
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