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Minnesota State Fair board to discuss status of 2020 fair Friday

The State Fair website does not say whether a final decision will be made Friday on whether the event will go on.
Credit: KARE
Crowds at the Minnesota State Fair on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019.

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — While decisions to cancel or postpone many of Minnesota's iconic summer events have already been made, one is still out, a choice so impactful that it is the equivalent of a 12,000-pound elephant in the room.

The Minnesota State Fair board of managers will meet Friday morning at 9 a.m. to discuss the status of the 2020 fair. The board does not say on its website that a final decision will be made on whether the event will go on.

There is no doubt that the clock is ticking on The Great Minnesota Get-Together, a massive 12-day undertaking that involves coordinating thousands of exhibitors, performers and workers. MPR's Tim Nelson reports fair officials have been telling vendors and participants that they expect to make a final decision soon to allow food stands, attractions and exhibitors enough time to plan appropriately.

Governor Tim Walz did not sound optimistic as recently as April 24 when he was asked about the fair during his daily COVID-19 briefing. 

“I wouldn’t make a definitive call, but I also don’t want to give any false hope on this. I think it will be difficult to see a State Fair operating,” Walz said in response to a question. “I don’t know how you social distance in there.”

Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer said April 23 that there is no specific date by which they need to make a decision, adding that state, national and international public health directives are "central" to their preparation.

"That picture will become more clear in the weeks ahead as we continue to be in contact with our partners that are vital to produce an event the size and scope of the Great Minnesota Get-Together," Hammer said at that time. "We continue to remain hopeful that we can celebrate this year in our usual style, but ultimately please know and rest assured the State Fair will do the right thing for Minnesota, our nation and our world."

The fair is currently scheduled to run Aug. 27 through Sept. 7 of 2020.

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