Report: A decision on the Minnesota State Fair coming on Friday

Fair Board scheduled to meet and decide whether to cancel or go forward

The Morning News with Dave Lee
May 21, 2020 - 6:48 am

It's been a question Minnesotans have been asking since Governor Walz announced the closure of restaurants and bars back in March: "What about the State Fair?"

The tradition of pronto pups and Sweet Martha's, cattle barns, 4H, blue-ribbon pie and the Midway draws over 2 million people a year.  The Great Minnesota Get-Together is easily one of the state's largest events.  It's also one of our most packed, with attendees shoulder to shoulder walking down Dan Patch. 

How do you hold a State Fair during a pandemic?  It looks like we are finally get that answer on Friday.  

News Talk 830 WCCO Political Analyst Blois Olson reported on the Morning News with Dave Lee that the Fair Board is making that difficult decision this week.

Olson told Dave Lee, "Sources are telling me the board are meeting Friday morning, and they will take a vote or make a decision on the 2020 Fair, and whether the Fair is going forward or is cancelled for the year."

Back on April 30th, the State Fair tweeted out a response to rumors they were cancelling this year's fair, saying, "We have been made aware of posts circulating throughout social media that are disseminating rumors & false information. The State Fair has not be canceled."  State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer told Dave Lee earlier that they would probabably wait until June to make a decision, adding that "social distancing would not work" if they were forced to incorporate those.  

Governor Walz announcement on restaurants and salons opening on Wednesday seems to have forced the Fair Board to make a decision sooner.

RELATED: Governor Walz announces restaurants can open June 1st with outdoor seating only.

"I think most people thought the Fair wasn't going to happen this year," said Olson. "I think yesterday's announcement wasn't as far as people wanted to go with reopening.  It showed the conservatism of the administration and health officials.  So the consensus has been that the Fair's not going to happen."

Olson also said while he doesn't know what decision the Fair Board will make, it's likely not what what Minnesotans are hopeing for.

"There was a big piece of Minnesota optimism, if we can get through the summer and still get the State Fair, then everything will be OK. I have no insight, it's purely gut, but I find it hard to believe the Fair is going to happen."

It wouldn't be the first cancellation of the Minnesota State Fair.  It was closed in 1946 because of the polio pandemic, 1945 because of WWII, 1893 for the Chicago World's Fair, and a couple of times in the 1860's during the Civil and Dakota Wars.

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