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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.

Go deeper

Scoop: Fair's Scott Painter raises $30 million for new startup

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

NextCar, a startup for car leases and subscriptions formed by TrueCar and Fair founder Scott Painter, has raised about $30 million in seed funding from investors like Reid Hoffmann and Mark Pincus, per an internal email obtained by Axios. The round was led by a private equity firm, according to a source.

Backstory: Shortly before Painter announced his new company in October, Reuters reported that he was exploring ways to buy Fair back from SoftBank Vision Fund and other backers. He resigned as CEO in October 2019.

Editor's note: The story has been updated to clarify that the company provides lease and subscriptions (not rentals).

Virginia governor orders probe into pepper-spraying of Army officer

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, Va. in 2019. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Sunday he's ordered the state police to conduct an independent investigation into a traffic stop during which two officers pepper-sprayed and drew guns on an Army lieutenant.

Driving the news: Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is suing the police officers over the incident, which attracted widespread criticism after video footage emerged. Northam said in a statement he found the incident "disturbing" and that it angered him.

Biden pollster urges blunt tax talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The top pollster for Joe Biden's presidential campaign is advising the White House to do something that often makes Democrats nervous: Talk loudly and proudly about raising taxes on the rich.

Why it matters: John Anzalone tells Axios his extensive polling and research has found that few issues receive broader support than raising taxes on corporations and people earning more than $400,000 a year.