Feb 24, 2021 - News

Positive signs for 2021's Minnesota State Fair

Photo: Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Minnesota General Manager Jerry Hammer isn't ready to say the Great Minnesota Get-Together is on for 2021, but he's encouraged by the vaccine rollout and recent herd immunity projections.

The state of play: "Looking at what we know today and looking at trends and where we're headed, some sort of outdoor event is certainly an expectation," Hammer told Axios.

Driving the news: The Fair is still six months away, but planning ramps up in the spring. Last year, Hammer and his board of governors made the call to cancel in late May.

On the table: Hammer and his staff are considering many options for a 2021 Fair, including a mask requirement and attendance limits.

  • But the dates, Aug. 26 to Sept. 6, will not change, Hammer said. That's because vendors have scheduled travel across Minnesota and the nation.

Gov. Tim Walz wouldn't commit to a timeline yesterday for deciding on the fair and other large events, but said he's also optimistic given the "trajectory we're on."

  • "You hit these milestones, these are the types of activities that would come back, whether that's increased capacity of the stadium or looking at the State Fair," he told reporters.

Vendor status: The State Fair brings in thousands of vendors who do everything from bake cookies to operate rides in the Midway to sell kitchenware and lawnmowers.

  • Many of those vendors make their living almost exclusively on state and country fairs. Business was wiped out in 2020.
  • The State Fair surveyed those vendors in November. "We've had next to no fallout — so far, anyway," Hammer said.

The big picture: Hammer is in regular contact with a group of state fair operators in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa.

  • The CEO of the Iowa State Fair said earlier this month that, barring a significant resurgence of COVID, the Aug. 12-22 festivities would be back.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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