Summer events in Minnesota start to bloom as COVID-19 restrictions ease
Summer events across Minnesota that had originally been canceled due to COVID-19 are now planning for a return.
Gov. Tim Walz announced last week that most of the state’s restrictions will end before Memorial Day weekend.
Back to the 50s Weekend, a massive car show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, had decided to call off its June event two weeks ago due to capacity restrictions.
Over the weekend, organizers decided to bring the event back, even though they now have only about a month to plan for it.
"Everything that’s happening the next couple weeks, it’s a day-by-day-by-day change. I’ll tell you, it’s crazy," said Board Secretary Linda Lucas. "But it’s also wonderful. It truly is."
Lucas said Back to the 50s features about 12,000 cars and is the country’s largest car show, now celebrating its 47th year at the State Fairgrounds.
The event will take place June 18-20.
"We now have got to do in four weeks what we normally do in 16," Lucas said. "And we’re going crazy, but we are loving every minute of it because everyone’s so supportive and they’re excited. They really are."
Lucas said they need about 2,000 volunteers to put the event on, and they are now actively recruiting volunteers.
Other summer events are also grappling with how to proceed, since they were not expecting the sudden lift of restrictions.
The Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis, a major music festival that normally takes place in July, announced on social media that the event will be postponed until September.
After the governor’s announcement, Twin Cities Pride decided to move forward with its festival July 17-18.
Executive Director Dot Belstler said it will be a ‘scaled-down’ event with fewer vendors, food courts and stages. They plan to host a beer garden but will not have a Saturday night concert or fireworks.
Belstler said they are still deciding whether to have a parade.
Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth had originally planned for a no-spectator race on June 19.
Marketing Director Zach Schneider said organizers are preparing to make final decisions sometime this week on plans for spectators and a post-race celebration.
"It opened up a whole lot of doors that we thought were closed off for the 2021 event," Schneider said. "We spent seven or eight months crossing things off our list, taking things out of our weekend plan, and now to be able to come to work and put things back into our plan, it’s very energizing."
Schneider said, despite the excitement over reopening, Grandma’s Marathon will still make safety a priority.
"People will have different comfort levels and different opinions about what’s going on in the world when they come to Duluth next month and so this isn’t going to be a ‘throw our doors wide open and let’s have a Grandma’s Marathon just like normal,’" Schneider said. "We still want to be respectful and make sure that everybody who comes here, everybody who lives here, everybody who is a part of our weekend, is as comfortable and as safe as possible."
As for the Minnesota State Fair, General Manager Jerry Hammer provided the following statement after the governor’s announcement last week:
"We’re excited by today’s news regarding the easing of COVID restrictions, and we’re continuing to move forward with State Fair preparations. More information on the Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together will be shared in the coming weeks."
A State Fair spokesperson said there are no further updates at this time.