Minnesota State Fair sees sharp drop in attendance for opening day

The 2021 figure was less than half of opening day attendance in 2019.
Minnesota State Fair - main gate day 2021

Day one of the 2021 Minnesota State Fair, with heavy rain clouds and the specter of COVID hanging overhead, tallied its lowest opening day attendance in at least four years.

The state fair said approximately 61,983 got together at the Get-Together Thursday, a stiff drop from 2019 (the last time the State Fair was held) when 133,236 people showed up for day one. (That was actually one of five new attendance records set that year.)

Here's a look at 2021's opening day compared to the previous four fairs:

State Fair Opening Day Attendance












The 2021 opening day was hampered by rain and storms that rolled through the Twin Cities metro. Lightning delayed Miranda Lambert's Grandstand show and severe conditions shut down the Midway and Kidway just before 9 p.m.

Related: Minnesota State Fair during a pandemic: Does it feel any different?

The delta variant of COVID-19 coupled with concerns over the fair's mitigation measures — masks and vaccines strongly recommended, but not required — have led to questions about what to expect for attendance figures this year. 

Some normally dedicated fairgoers, worried about the recent COVID surge, have said they'll be skipping the 2021 Get-Together. About 150 vendors, as well as some media outlets and performers, have also bowed out this year. 

Related: Hennepin Healthcare doctor: Only go to the State Fair 'if you're vaccinated'

A drop in attendance is what happened in Wisconsin this year. Attendance for the Wisconsin State Fair was down 26% compared to 2019 (the 2020 fair was canceled due to COVID). 

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Melissa Turtinen - Minnesota State Fair

At the midway point, how is MN State Fair attendance stacking up?

Here's a look at how this year's numbers compare to the four most recent fairs.

Melissa Turtinen - MN State Fair 2021

State Fair posts busiest day of 2021, but attendance remains low

Overall attendance so far is 60-70% of the numbers seen from 2016-19.

Melissa Turtinen - Minnesota State Fair 2021

2021 MN State Fair passes half a million guests in 5 days

This comes after Monday's attendance total wasn't far off from the 2019 number.

Melissa Turtinen - MN State Fair 2021

Stronger final weekend, but total State Fair attendance down 36%

Overall attendance just eked past 1.3 million, the lowest attendance since 1977.

Melissa Turtinen - Minnesota State Fair 2021

Will MN State Fair attendance pick up for the final weekend?

Attendance has been below 90,000 five times this year — figures not seen in the past decade.

Minnesota State Fair - main gate day 2021

State Fair reveals COVID rules: People urged – but not required – to wear masks

The fair is urging attendees to follow the guidance "because it’s the right thing to do."

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Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.