Low attendance at Minnesota State Fair eats into vendors’ bottom line

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Minnesota State Fair vendors continue to see a drop in sales as attendance levels decrease daily compared to 2019.

Cynthia Forster-Kavanugh, owner of Sausage by Cynthia, is putting fewer links on the grill this year.

“I feel just happy to be here. We just didn’t know what we’re going to get when we came in and now we know,” Forster-Kavanaugh said.

Her faith in sales is starting to fizzle out.

Last Saturday, sausage sales dropped 60% compared to 2019. Since then, they’re only down 40%. Forster-Kavanaugh said it’s better than no customers at all.

"We’ve had a fairly decent week, so we’re pleased with that,” she said.

Normally wall-to-wall crowds pack the streets at the fair, but the empty spaces this year are hitting vendors in their wallets.

“Well, every day is an adventure since COVID arrived a year ago, and it’s the same with the State Fair,” said Wayne Kostroski, owner of Tejas Express.

Tejas Express is housed in a food building. He said inside or out, turnout is low.

“Over the many years, you could kind of tell how many people are out here by how much of the street you can see or not see,” Kostroski said.

Compared to state fair attendance in 2019, on Friday the fair saw more than a 50% drop in attendance.

“You roll with it. You roll with the weather and with the attendance. If you come out of here with a good attitude, then you’ll have a great time,” Kostroski said.

Both vendors agree that Minnesota State Fair 2022 can’t come soon enough.

“My anticipation is that it’s going to be better. It’s going to look better unless something changes dramatically,” Kostroski said.