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Walz: Minnesota State Fair should be 'pretty close to normal'

The cancellation of the 2020 state fair due to COVID-19 resulted in millions of dollars lost. But this year, there are "reasons for optimism."

ST PAUL, Minn. — After COVID kept Minnesotans from getting together last year, the Great Minnesota Get Together may be back on track.

In a press briefing on Friday, Gov. Tim Walz said that he thinks Minnesota has been "out-pacing" President Biden's expectation for a return to normal by July 4 - and that could mean good things for the Minnesota State Fair.

"As long as we tamp down what we're seeing in schools, as long as we tamp down about these younger folks getting infected and we do some of the smart things over the next few weeks, we should be able to move in that direction," he said. "For us, the touchstone place is the State Fair. Everything looks to me on the horizon with the way vaccine is going and the way the virus is responding, that that should be a pretty close to normal event." 

Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer told KARE 11 on Monday that "planning is proceeding" for the 2021 event in August.

"Last year, our nation was staring into the abyss and we knew in May that there would be no fair," Hammer said in a statement. "This year looks very different with plenty of reasons for optimism."

The Minnesota State Fairgrounds have become a vaccination site in recent weeks, but Hammer said the hope is that they will hold familiar festivities later this summer.

"While we don’t know exactly what this year’s fair will look like, we’re planning for a variety of scenarios based on evolving health and safety guidelines," Hammer's statement continued.

In January, Hammer said the cancellation of the 2020 fair due to COVID-19 resulted in an operating loss of $16.2 million. To make up some of the revenue lost, fair organizers sold "at-home edition" packages, held an online marketplace, and put on a State Fair Food Parade.

Currently the 2021 state fair is scheduled for Aug. 26 to Sept. 6. Updates on plans will be announced on the fair website.

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