The coronavirus has claimed another victim, taking down this summer's Minnesota State Fair.
An official cancellation of the Great Minnesota Get-Together was announced Friday during a meeting involving the Board of Managers of the Minnesota State Agricultural Society, which runs the fair.
"We can't do it. There's just not time," said State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer, who said in March they were fueled by hope that things might work out.
"We determined to go ahead with whatever it took to present the fair this year and a lot of that was done basically, hope that things would turn the corner."
"We all love the fair and that's exactly why we can't have the fair," Hammer said. "This is about doing the right thing for the future of the fair."
Hammer said health considerations were a huge part of the decision, but because the State Fair is so large and complex, logistically and successfully running the operation would be impossible.
Asked about the fair during Thursday's COVID-19 media briefing, state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of the fair could result in "a great deal of community spread and great risk of transmission."
Minnesota is currently in what experts believe to be the first wave of outbreak of the pandemic, with the peak projected to arrive any time between June and early August, which puts the start of the fair – Aug. 27 – on what would be considered the back end of the peak.
Last year's fair drew in a record 2,126,551 visitors, meaning elbow-to-elbow crowds are common for the 12 days of food and fun.
"That's the charm of the Minnesota State Fair. Unfortunately, that is the worst thing for COVID-19 control," Gov. Tim Walz said April 23.
This marks the sixth time the State Fair has been canceled since its inception.
- 1861 - Civil War
- 1862 - U.S.-Dakota War
- 1893 - scheduling conflicts with the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
- 1945 - World War II travel restrictions
- 1946 - Polio epidemic
In addition to the State Fair being canceled, at least 20 county fairs across Minnesota have been canceled due to safety concerns. See the list of county fair cancellations here.