Minnesota State Fair Canceled for First Time in More Than 70 Years

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The general manager of the Minnesota State Fair announced Friday morning that the annual gathering will be canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” General Manager Jerry Hammer said in a statement.

He acknowledged that the cancellation “will have a big impact on thousands of businesses and the tens of thousands of people whose talent, dedication and love bring the fair to life.”

“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 always give their very best. They are the pillars of the fair, and almost all have been affected during the past two months. Some are doing okay, but many have eroded including some who provide our biggest and best programs,” he continued.

Hammer said in April that alternate fair dates, significant restrictions, or a change in the duration of the fair wouldn’t be considered.

“The State Fair needs to be a full-on celebration. That’s what makes it very special for so many of us,” he said Friday.

The annual gathering, which consistently attracts more than two million visitors in its 12-day stretch, generated an estimated $268 million in the Twin Cities economy in 2018. According to its website, the fair employs nearly 90 year-round, 450 seasonal, and 2,300 fair-time workers every year.

Many small businesses count on revenue from the fair each year. The infamous Sweet Martha’s, for instance, brings in at least $3 million in just 12 days selling its product at the fair.

“So this isn’t a difficult decision. It’s the only decision. It’s the right thing to do,” Hammer concluded. “As we go through this strange summer, we’re extremely grateful for the understanding and support of everyone who makes the State Fair possible – especially the millions of fair fans from around the globe. The best thing we can all do right now is to help the world recover and heal.”

The Minnesota State Fair was last canceled in 1946 because of the polio epidemic and has been canceled just six times (including this year) since it first began in 1859.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Minnesota State Fair” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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