Three Midwest States Cancel State Fairs; Will Others, Too?
Minnesota, North Dakota and Ohio's state fairs have been cancelled for 2020 because of coronavirus concerns, joining dozens of other Midwest events that have been called off or postponed.
The Minnesota State Fair, originally scheduled for Aug. 27-Sept. 7, was cancelled on Friday, May 22, just a day after Ohio called off its fair.
"It's the only decision. It's the right thing to do," Minnesota state fair general manager Jerry Hammer said. "The best thing we can all do right now is to help the world recover and heal."
Billed as The Great Minnesota Get-Together, the Midwest's most popular fair draws some 2 million people.
The Ohio State Fair originally planned for July 29-Aug.9 was officially cancelled as of May 21 due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns. North Dakota’s State Fair, originally scheduled for July 17-25, 2020, was cancelled earlier in May.
"Last year, 934,925 people attended the Ohio State Fair during its 12-day run," according to the Ohio fair's website. "The Ohio Expositions Commission is focused on developing a strategy to responsibly reopen its year-round facilities when appropriate, and to welcome guests back for the 2021 Ohio State Fair, scheduled for July 28 through August 8 of next year."
In North Dakota, state fair general manager Renae Korslien thanked fairgoers "for their continued support in these uncharted waters. We have been greatly touched by the strong support that we have received during these challenging days. This decision is in the best interest for all involved. It is impossible to predict the scale of this pandemic and our concern is for the health and safety of our community, our attendees, exhibitors, vendors, staff and all involved with the North Dakota State Fair."
The fair is the largest event in the state, attracting about 300,000 visitors.
While North Dakota, Minnesota and Ohio have become the first to cancel state fairs, other Midwest states are weighing options, and many other signature summer events have been cancelled or delayed.
Here’s what other Midwest states are saying about their 2020 fair plans:
While public events at the fairgrounds have been cancelled through May 31, Illinois Fair officials are continuing to evaluate the pandemic before deciding about the fair, scheduled for Aug. 13-23. Grandstand ticket sales are postponed for a later date.
The state plans to fully reopen by July 4 and Indiana State Fairground officials say they hope to hold the Indiana fair Aug. 7-23.
Iowa fair officials will make a decision about the 2020 state fair (scheduled for Aug. 13-23) in early to mid-June.
The Kansas Fair’s website states that “Despite the uncertainties of our present situation, we remain confident that we can ‘Celebrate All Things Kansas’ at the end of summer.” The fair is planned for Sept. 11-20.
The Michigan Fair’s website says “we are hopeful that a sense of normalcy will return” by the time of the fair, planned for Sept. 3-7, “and that Michiganders, more than ever, will welcome an opportunity” to celebrate.
The Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba is slated for Aug. 17-23.
The fair remains scheduled for Aug. 13-23. Missouri fair staff members say they will update their website and social media with any updates if changes are made.
Nebraska’s fair is scheduled for Aug. 28-Sept. 7. The staff and board “are mindful of and monitoring the current COVID-19 impact to events and social gatherings” and “assessing options and ramifications should adjustments be necessary.”
South Dakota fair officials say the fair is still being planned for late summer (Sept. 3-7). As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to be monitored, the state is hoping to hold the “perfect vision of fun” for this year’s fairgoers.
The Wisconsin State Fair Park website states that no decision has been made on whether the fair (planned for Aug. 6-16) will go on as planned or will be cancelled.
Other Midwest events
Throughout the Midwest, events scheduled for late spring and early summer have been cancelled or postponed, and some scheduled for later in the summer have been cancelled as well.
Among major Midwest events cancelled for this year: the National Morel Mushroom Festival in Boyne City, Michigan; the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan; the National Balloon Classic in Indianola, Iowa; RAGBRAI in Iowa; the Des Moines Arts Festival; Chicago area events including the Chicago Blues Festival, Ravinia Festival, and Chicago Gospel Music Festival; Polish Fest, Irish Fest and Festa Italiana in Milwaukee; Riverfest in Wichita, Kansas; Kansas’ Symphony in the Flint Hills; the X Games in Minneapolis; Old-Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival in Missouri; Columbus (Ohio) Arts Festival; Czech Days in Tabor, South Dakota; EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, Wisconsin; Fyr Bal Festival in Door County, Wisconsin; and World’s Largest Brat Fest in Madison, Wisconsin.
Postponements include Milwaukee’s Summerfest (now Sept. 3-5, 10-12 and 17-19); the Indianapolis 500 (now Aug. 23); Indiana’s Abbey Road on the River (now Oct. 8-11); Taste of Omaha (now Aug. 14-16); Nebraskaland Days, TBA; Vectren Dayton Air Show, TBA.
Please check websites for the latest event information.