A five-day event held at the end of May offered a preview of the much-anticipated Great Minnesota Get-Together, which is set to return later this summer. On the second day of “Kickoff to Summer at the Fair,” spirits were high as thousands of Minnesotans had a chance to experience a taste of what’s next for one the state’s most prized summer traditions.
After the fair’s year of absence in 2020, the spring preview event brought a returned sense of community and normalcy. One man commented that the event felt like the first normal thing he had done this year and was glad he chose to attend.
One woman, a veteran fairgoer of 65 consecutive years, enjoyed the May preview. She remarked that during her lifetime, she only missed the State Fair twice, including the cancellation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although scaled back to a few blocks of the fairgrounds, the familiar essence of the Fair was impossible to ignore. Live music, favorite fried foods, merchandise vendors, and the Giant Slide were highlights of the second day.
Social distancing and face masks were not required of attendees but recommended for those who were not fully vaccinated. However, all staff and vendors were required to wear face masks. Walk-up vaccinations were available for attendees daily, hosted by the State of Minnesota and FEMA.
According to WCCO, more than 70,000 people attended the event over its five-day span, which is about less than half of typical daily State Fair attendance. Still, long lines to food vendors, such as Pronto Pups, encroached on sidewalks. At dusk before closing, employees entertained swarms of customers outside of Sweet Martha’s Cookies waiting to take home fresh cookies by the bucketful, by starting “the wave.” Passersby even stopped to take photos of the growing crowd.
During “Kickoff to Summer at the Fair,” Minnesotans were able to connect with each other once again at a unique event that signals a hopeful future for Minnesota.
The Minnesota State Fair will open to the public August 26 and run through September 6, 2021.