Apr 4, 2022 - Food and Drink

Minnesota State Fair food vendors saw big drop in sales for 2021

<span style="background:#054f9f; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">2019</span> and <span style="background:#3fb4ff; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">2021</span> revenue for  top 10 Minnesota State Fair vendors
Data: Minnesota State Fair; Chart Thomas Oide/Axios

Sales at the 10 most popular Minnesota State Fair food booths plummeted by 35% last year.

Why it matters: Hundreds of small businesses in Minnesota rely on the annual event and some have used it as a stepping stone to create year-round companies.

Driving the news: The State Fair released food vendor revenue data for 2021 after Axios requested it last week.

Context: The decline in revenue is in-line with a drop in attendance at the 2021 State Fair.

Driving the dip: The Delta variant dampened the fair's comeback after the full cancellation in 2020.

State of play: It's not yet clear how much the tough sales numbers from 2021 will affect turnover at the State Fair. While the big vendors will likely be fine, the smaller and newer ones don't have the same resources.

  • About 150 vendors vendors pulled out before last year's fair.
  • Fair staff typically renews and issues licenses in April and May and has a better indication of repeat vendors in June, according to a spokesperson.

What they're saying: Bill Wozniak, who owns Fresh French Fries with his family, is predicting a major bounce-back in State Fair attendance this summer, pending good weather.

  • But rising costs are a major concern for vendors. For example, costs for soybean oil — one of the three ingredients for the Wozniaks' french fries — have tripled over the past two years.

The intrigue: Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar remains the most popular vendor by a mile. After hitting $5 million in sales in 2019, it came in at $3.3 million in 2021.

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