ST. PAUL, Minn. (WKBT) — The agonized cries rising from Minnesota and surrounding states Friday are because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused organizers to cancel this year’s Minnesota State Fair, a rare cancellation in the iconic event’s history.
The decision to cancel the fair for the first time since 1946 was announced after a virtual Zoom meeting of the fair’s board of managers.
“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,” General Manager Jerry Hammer said in a statement on the fair’s website.
“There will be no State Fair this year,” he said, meaning no Sweet Martha’s Cookies, no cheese curds, no turkey drumsticks and no anything-you-could-fit-on a stick.
“Like everything during the past few months, it’s complex and difficult,” Hammer said. “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.”
“This 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,” he said. “We understand exactly what they’re going through because we’re going through the same thing.”
The decision is based on caution for attendees’ health.
“No one knows what things will be like at fair time, but we need to make decisions now based on what we know today, not how we hope things will be in August,” Hammer said. “And right now, all of the science says that if things go well, we’ll still be walking very carefully in three months.”
Anyone who’s ever been in the massive hulk of elbow-to-elbow humanity walking the fairgrounds on a warm sunny day can imagine the impossibility of maintaining physical distancing.
“Can you imagine standing six feet apart in line for cookies?” Hammer said. “Me neither.”