Minnesota State Fair Cancelled
For the first time since 1946, the Minnesota State Fair has been cancelled.
Ever since news emerged that COVID-19 became a pandemic, Minnesotans wondered whether or not the State Fair would be held. Now, the State Fair Board of Managers made it a reality with an announcement on Friday morning.
“Like everything during the past few months, it’s complex and difficult,” Jerry Hammer, State Fair General Manager, said in a press release. “The State Fair is built on a vast network of agriculturists, vendors, artists, entertainers, competitors, amusement operators, sponsors, State Fair staff and thousands more who all give their very best.
“They are the pillars of the fair, and almost all have been affected during the past two months. It’s a challenging time for our determined young people in youth agriculture programs. More and more livestock exhibitors, entertainers and attraction operators are concerned with going on the road this summer.
“Some commercial exhibitors are past their deadlines for getting products, and now there’s even a question of adequate supplies for food vendors. And many are having trouble finding people who are willing to work in crowds.”
The last time the State Fair was cancelled was during the polio pandemic. Prior to that, the State Fair was cancelled only four other times; in 1945 due to travel restrictions during World War II, in 1893 when it was up against the World’s Colombian Expo in Chicago, and in both 1861 and 1862 because of the Civil War and the U.S.-Dakota War.
The Minnesota State Fair is the largest single gathering in the state every year, and also is among the most well-attended state fairs in the nation with recent annual attendance tallies surpassing two million.
The cancellation of the State Fair will have a huge impact on thousands of businesses and people who rely on the income each year.
“We understand exactly what they’re going through because we’re going through the same thing,” said Hammer. “We’ll face those challenges because the most important thing is your health.”
Hammer and his staff based the decision to cancel the State Fair on dates that professionals are providing.
“Right now, all of the science says that if things go well, we’ll still be walking very carefully in three months,” he said. “That’s far from ready to run a mass gathering marathon like the State Fair.”
Social distancing is the biggest concern for large gatherings such as the State Fair.
“Can you see social distancing on a Park & Ride bus, or at the band shell? One at a time on the Giant Slide? Can you imagine standing six feet apart in line for cookies?” Hammer asked rhetorically. “So this isn’t a difficult decision. It’s the only decision. It’s the right thing to do.”