State fair email: ‘Full steam ahead’, Gov. Walz cautiously optimistic

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While large gatherings may be on hold for the time being, state fair officials say they are continuing to work on preparing for the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

"Last week, one of our contacts in state government said, ‘Minnesota needs the fair, now more than ever.’ He’s right, and we’ll deliver," Minnesota State Fair Executive Vice President Jerry Hammer said in an email to vendors.

Hammer also said in the email, "We’re going full speed ahead with preparations for this year’s Fair and working hard to make our very special brand of late-summer magic."

In the email, Hammer told vendors licenses for the fair will likely be issued by mid-May.

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In an afternoon call Thursday afternoon, Gov. Tim Walz said he agreed that Minnesotans do need the fair but said it was too early to make a decision on whether the fair needs to be postponed.

Walz and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said they’ll look at data over the next several weeks and months and see how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve before making a decision on the Minnesota State Fair.

"We do expect several waves of COVID-19, so we absolutely need to think of these things," Walz said. "And we need to think about it now, but the testing and data will drive that decision rather than setting a specific date."

The governor stated Wednesday the peak of COVID-19 infections for Minnesota is expected to be reached at "about the 150-day mark", which would be sometime in mid-to-late August. The fair is scheduled to open Aug. 27.

Still, Walz noted that with the large number of people that attend the fair, some precautions will still likely be necessary, but what those precautions are will be determined at a later date.

More than 2 million people visited the state fair in each of the past two years.