Another familiar presence at the Minnesota State Fair will not be attending this year's Get-Together amid concerns about the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Education Minnesota, a trade union representing some 89,000 K-12 public school teachers, has announced it will be sitting out the 2021 State Fair "due to health and safety concerns":
In a Saturday social media post, Education Minnesota said it "cannot in good conscience ask more than 150 educator-volunteers to work shifts... in unsafe conditions," referring to the fair's controversial decision not to mandate masks, vaccinations or negative COVID tests for visitors.
The group noted that the pending return of Minnesota students to their classrooms factored into the decision, saying that "the risk to (our volunteers) and their students was just too high."
More than 150 educator-volunteers were set to work at the union's photo calendar booth, where fairgoers could normally get personalized calendars while interacting with "Education Minnesota ambassadors."
Nonetheless, the organization says it will be offering an at-home version of the photo calendar as it did last year.
The announcement follows a round of other high-profile withdrawals from the fair.
About 150 vendors will not be in attendance due to COVID-19, staff shortages or supply chain issues.
WCCO Radio was among the fair mainstays deciding to pull out of the event this week, criticizing organizers for choosing the "honor system" for handling COVID-19.
Also withdrawing from the fair is foodie news site Heavy Table, which has covered fair food since 2010. The site also criticized organizers for their relaxed COVID policies, saying "personal initiative is not a substitute for institutional mandates."
The State Fair is set to kick off Thursday, August 26 and run through Labor Day, September 6.