Blue Earth County Fair still planning for 2020 as 4 local counties cancel
(North Mankato, MN) – Following news that the Minnesota State Fair wouldn’t happen in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, three local county fairs have announced cancellations.
But in Blue Earth County, fair organizers say they are still planning for the annual county fair.
In a Facebook post Thursday, the fair posted a poll that asked their followers whether they planned to attend the July 23 – July 26 event. About 66% of the voters said they would plan to attend the fair if it was held.
The fair board also solicited comments from the general public, asking for opinions and possible volunteers. “If the governor allows fairs to happen, should we have our fair?” asked the social media post.
Comments were largely agreeable, with a few concerns and suggestions shared.
If the Blue Earth County Fair moves forward, it would be part of a small group of county fairs in the state.
“We are planning as if we are having a fair,” said Robin Tietz, President of the Blue Earth County Fair Board told SMN.
Tietz said if the fair does go on, it will be different from what it has been in years past. Entertainment is lined up, but recruiting vendors has been difficult because of the uncertainty over state regulations on crowd gathering sizes.
“My heart is telling me we have to give people something to look forward to,” said Tietz, pausing as she broke into tears. “But my brain is telling me different,” she agonized.
Tietz said the fair board is analyzing the situation constantly, and a decision about the fair’s fate will be made in June. “The bottom line is that we want to keep everybody safe.”
This week, the Nicollet County Fair Board announced that the August 5 – August 9 event was cancelled out of concern for fair goers. The board said the 2021 fair is already scheduled for August 11-15.
Yesterday in Waseca County, the fair board said it was with “heavy hearts” they made the decision to cancel to the 2020 Free Fair. The board said it doesn’t have the resources to safely hold the fair during the pandemic.
In a press release sent Wednesday, the Steele County Free Fair announced the cancellation of the state’s largest county fair, saying the board couldn’t find a plan that would allow the beloved tradition to move forward during the pandemic.
The Watonwan County Fair also announced cancellation of its annual festivities last week.
There has been no word from the Brown County Fair Board to date. A social media post last from the Le Sueur says that organizers are still planning to have a fair as they continue to monitor pandemic developments.
Tietz tells SMN that 50 out of 90 county fairs have been cancelled to date.