FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. -- The Minnesota State Fair is off and running, but for some parents, the window to attend the 12-day gathering is already winding to a close.
"It was (Friday) or a weekend," Claire Blanchette told KARE 11.
Blanchette's daughter Simone is a 7th grader in the Minneapolis Public School District. She starts school on Monday, which is technically day 5 of the state fair.
Minneapolis schools have started a week before Labor Day for the last four years.
"We've kind of gotten used to it, but it does feel like you're rushing at the end of summer to get to the fair, really," Blanchette said on her way to the Midway rides.
More and more schools are starting early and the fair says it's taking a hit.
"I do know back a number of years when schools did open before labor day we saw a dramatic effect on what happened in attendance on school days," Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer explained.
What about weekends?
"The weekend days, which are already big, got bigger," he said.
The state fair has joined tourism officials in lobbying legislators to keep summer from ending early for public schools. Some educators say it helps them get a head start on preparing for spring tests and on upcoming spring construction projects.
According to data sent to KARE 11 from the Department of Education, fewer than 50 school districts have at least one school starting early and that's out of 339 public districts statewide.
Private schools are exempt from the post-labor day start and many in the metro take advantage of the chance to start early. Some school boards argue that because of it, there is not a level playing field.
Hammer finds another reason he doesn't like the early start.
"This is a great work opportunity for kids. Long ago, I was one of them. I grew up a block away and I worked here during the summers," he recalled.
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