Could the COVID cancellation in 2020 lead to changes for the Minnesota State Fair? You betcha!

Organizers of the Minnesota State Fair said changes are in the works for next summer, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We’ll see things emerge from this," said State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer. "There’s a number of changes we’ll see, for sure, and there are things we haven’t thought of yet that will come up as well."

Hammer said the public can expect to see extra precautions on the fairgrounds moving forward, including Plexiglass barriers, touch-free transactions with vendors and additional hand sanitizing stations.

He said organizers are also considering the best ways to manage the flow of people on the fairgrounds, to help spread out the crowds.

"There’s an awful lot of activity, too much activity, in that center block with a lot of the really tall attractions," Hammer said. "We’re moving all of those out to create more people space and that too will help traffic flow, people walking around. That’ll help that quite a bit and we’ll see that next year for sure."

Hammer said that plan involves moving several of the large Adventure Park attractions to another area on the fairgrounds.

"There were a couple of things we would have had in place for this fair as well, including a new food and entertainment destination, again on the north end, to help spread things out," Hammer said.

He said the fair continues to adapt to challenges.

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"As time goes by, the fair has to evolve along with that to stay relevant, to stay current," Hammer said.

The fair has been in existence since 1855, making it older than the state of Minnesota.

Hammer said it has been canceled five other times over the years and has always come back stronger.

"In 1861, the opening of the Civil War, they canceled the fair that year. In 1862, with the Civil War continuing, plus the Dakota War, that shut down the fair," Hammer explained. "In 1893, there was a huge world’s fair, the World Columbian Exhibition it was called, where the equivalent of 20% of the population of the U.S. attended, so fairs throughout neighboring states canceled. In 1945, the end of World War II, the federal government said, ‘No fairs this year.’ And in 1946, 10 days before the fair, they canceled it due to a polio outbreak."

He said when the fair returned in 1947, it was a very successful year for the fair. He hopes to see similar success in 2021.

Hammer said the bulk of the planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair will begin in October.