Minnesota State Fair 2020 is Canceled

The 2021 fair is already dubbed ”the Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together”
State Fair Ferris Wheel

Natalie Hall

The Minnesota State Fair has announced that the 2020 fair is canceled. The sad news came in a statement released Friday by Jerry Hammer, the fair’s general manager.

“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,” Hammer says. “We understand exactly what they’re going through because we’re going through the same thing.”

The cancelation is tied to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and concerns related to public health. In April, Gov. Walz expressed his doubts that a fair would happen this year. “I think it’ll be very difficult to see a State Fair operating,” he said. “I don’t know how you social distance in there.” The last time the fair didn’t run as usual was 1946, due to the polio epidemic, and this is the sixth time it has been canceled.

“It’s not a difficult decision. It’s the only decision,” Hammer says.

The State Fair has posted a lengthy Q&A on its website with more details about the rationale behind the decision. All 2020 Grandstand shows have been postponed to 2021.

Here is the full letter from Hammer:

Dear Friends,

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.

Like everything during the past few months, it’s complex and difficult. 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. 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.

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. We understand exactly what they’re going through because we’re going through the same thing.

We’ll face those challenges because the most important thing is your 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. And right now, all of the science says that if things go well, we’ll still be walking very carefully in three months. That’s far from ready to run a mass gathering marathon like the State Fair. Can you see social distancing on a Park & Ride bus, or at the Bandshell? One at a time on the Giant Slide? Can you imagine standing six feet apart in line for cookies? Me neither.

The State Fair needs to be a full-on celebration. That’s what makes it very special for so many of us, including young fair fan Addie who is 5 years old. She starts kindergarten this fall and she said, “I love the fair. There are a hundred things to do there. And it’s my birthday. It’s my favorite time of year.”

Millions of people love the fair just like Addie, even if it’s not their birthday. And 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.

A month ago, my good friend Carlos wrote, “If there’s no fair this year, it’s because they love us and want to see EVERYone next year.” He’s right. That’s the heart of the matter. We want to see you all for many years to come, when we can celebrate in true State Fair style.

So this isn’t a difficult decision. It’s the only decision. It’s the right thing to do. 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. In the meantime, your team of State Fair pros is working hard to come back bigger, better, stronger and smarter in ’21. We’ll see you next year at the Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together.

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