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Loss of fair in 2020 will take economic toll

Vendors say they understand the decision - but it won't make the fallout any easier to handle.

ST PAUL, Minn. — For many of you, the cancellation of the Minnesota State Fair stings.

But there’s an even bigger economic picture here. With the loss of two million people coming through the gates in late August and early September, the ripple effect will impact the whole state of Minnesota.

Take the iconic Kiwanis Malt Shop, for instance. Profits from their vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors at the fair have helped raise more than $2 million for kids’ programs over the past half-century, according to Roseville club president Todd Levig.

“It’s disheartening, because we know that so many of the agencies, like Feed My Starving Children … are already in need,” Levig said. “Knowing we’re not going to have that opportunity to raise funds again – it really hits you. It really makes you take a step back.”

Kiwanis Malt Shop and hundreds of other vendors will take a hit without the 12-day fair to bring in dollars. The economic blow will be felt region-wide, according to general manager Jerry Hammer.

“Every year,” he said, “it’s Super Bowl-size.”

According to the most recent study of the 2018 fair, the event generated $268 million in economic impact – and also generates the majority of the revenue to help the fair sustain its own operations.

And it’s a blow to the entire regional economy.

“Yeah, we’re going to basically go a year without revenue,” Hammer said. “But we’re prepared to do that because we need to do the right thing.”

Todd Levig, despite his disappointment, has no qualms with the decision as it relates to the Kiwanis Malt Shop.

“It’s just too much of a risk. At first, you know, you’re upset, but the more you think about it, you totally agree with them,” Levig said. “They had to do what they had to do.”

Even so, Kiwanis members are thinking of creative ways to replace lost malt shop revenue from the Fair.

“We could develop a drive-by – be it a fire hall, or warehouse, place your order, pick it up and drive on out. And then we can still have that income,” Levig said. “It’s a fun time of year … and … waiting another year for it, it’s going to be heartfelt.

RELATED: What a canceled State Fair means for 4-H kids

RELATED: 2020 Minnesota State Fair canceled due to coronavirus

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