2020 Minnesota State Fair canceled due to COVID-19 pandemicSubmitted: 05/22/2020
2020 Minnesota State Fair canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic
Story By Steve Karnowski, Associated Press

Photos By Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS - Officials canceled the Minnesota State Fair on Friday after its leader said the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for the show to go on.

"We all love the fair. And that's exactly why we can't have a fair this year," General Manager Jerry Hammer told the fair's governing board shortly before the unanimous vote.

The cancellation came as state health officials reported 33 deaths from the coronavirus, up one from a day earlier and a new high, along with 813 newly confirmed cases. Minnesota has now had 842 deaths and 19,005 confirmed cases. The number of people hospitalized edged downward slightly to 534, but the number in intensive care rose from 229 to a new daily high of 233.

Health officials have been watching nervously as the need for ICU beds grows, with a peak demand forecast for early July. As of Friday afternoon, according to the state's dashboard, 1,045 out of Minnesota's 1,257 ICU beds were in use, though hospitals had the capacity to add 654 within 24 hours and another 466 within 72 hours for a total of 2,377.

Even if it weren't for the health considerations, Hammer explained, all state fairs depend on huge networks of exhibitors, agriculturalists, volunteers, sponsors, ride operators and entertainers. But many major entertainers have already canceled tours for the summer, he said, and most agricultural exhibitors are now saying they might not come.

"This is the time of year when things need to really take off, and we can't do it," he said. "There's just not time. ... If there was to somehow be a fair, it wouldn't look like a normal fair at all."

The "Great Minnesota Get-Together" is one of the most popular state fairs in the U.S. A record 2.1 million people packed the fairgrounds in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights last year to eat foods on a stick, view farm animals exhibited by young people, enjoy thrill rides and see major stars perform at the Grandstand.

While some fair fans had argued that it should be held for healthy people willing to take the risks, Hammer said a significant number of visitors have health risks that make them particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. If the fair can't be held for everyone, he said, it shouldn't be held at all.

This is the sixth time the Minnesota State Fair has been canceled since it was founded in 1859. The last was in 1946 due to a polio epidemic, one year after it was called off in 1945 due to World War II fuel restrictions. It was also canceled in 1861 due to the Civil War, in 1862 due to the U.S.-Dakota War and in 1893 because of scheduling conflicts with the world's fair in Chicago.

"This is about playing the long game," Hammer said. "This is about the future of the fair. This isn't about doing something now. This isn't about risking everything on a bad bet. This is about doing the right thing for the future of the fair. We've been here before."

This year's edition was scheduled to run scheduled from Aug. 27 through Labor Day, Sept. 7. Next year's has already been set for Aug. 26 through Labor Day, Sept. 6, of 2021. Hammer has dubbed it "The Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together."

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MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is proud to host the 8th annual Wisconsin Free Fun Weekend. Park admission fees, fishing license and trail pass requirements will be waived on June 6-7 to encourage Wisconsinites to take advantage of and enjoy Wisconsin's outdoors.

During Free Fun Weekend June 6-7:

- No state park admission stickers or trail passes are required.
- People may fish without a fishing license or trout/salmon stamps. All other fishing regulations apply.
- ATV, UTVs, and OHMs are exempt from registration requirements. Resident and non-resident all-terrain vehicle operators do not need a trail pass to ride state ATV trails.
- Capacity limits remain in effect at some properties to limit overcrowding.
- Visitors are asked to recreate responsibly close to home and practice social distancing.

Before heading to a state park, trail or waterbody near you, here are some additional things to know:


- Residents and non-residents will not be required to have a fishing license or trout/salmon stamps.
- All 2020-2021 fishing regulations apply including bag and length limits.
- Due to the public health risk, loaner equipment will not be available. Anglers should bring their own equipment and bait.
- Only anglers living in the same household (i.e. family members or roommates) should fish within six feet of one another.
- Events such as fishing clinics are canceled.
- Anglers are encouraged to have a backup plan in the event there is crowding or unsafe conditions where they plan to fish. We encourage everyone to fish safely and responsibly.
- Locate launches and shorefishing access points near you.

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BLACK RIVER FALLS - The death of an inmate in the Jackson County Jail is under investigation.

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MINNEAPOLIS - The white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd's neck as he begged for air was arrested Friday and charged with murder, as authorities imposed overnight curfews to try to stem violent protests over police killings of African Americans that have spread from Minneapolis to cities across the country.

Protesters smashed windows at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, torched a police car and struck officers with bottles. Large demonstrations in New York, Houston, Washington, D.C., and other cities ranged from people peacefully blocking roads to clashing with police.

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MILWAUKEE - A rally organized by the group Community Task Force MKE took place outside the Wisconsin Black Historical Society at 1:00 p.m. today.

Protesters gathered to demand justice for the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Community activist Vaun Mayes took part in leading the rally.

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The Sokaogan Chippewa Community in Crandon has been awarded $300,000 to fund their coronavirus relief effort.

According to a press release, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced they will award $15 million to 52 different tribes across the nation.

The money comes from the CARES Act that President Trump signed back in March.

Qualifying tribes can receive up to $300,000 in these grants. 

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News of the arrest came moments after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged the "abject failure" of the response to the protests and called for swift justice for officers involved. Walz said the state would take over the response to the violence and that it's time to show respect and dignity to those who are suffering.

The former Minneapolis police officer shown on video putting his knee on the neck of George Floyd has been arrested, according to Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington.

Derek Chauvin, who was fired on Monday along with three other officers involved in the detainment of Floyd, was taken into custody Friday.

Video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for at least eight minutes on Monday night. The police department initially said Floyd "physically resisted" the officers and that he died after "suffering medical distress."

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MADISON - Wisconsin health officials have recorded nearly 20 more COVID-19-related deaths since Thursday.

The state Department of Health Services says the number of deaths in the state as of Friday afternoon stood at 568, up 18 from the same time on Thursday.

The total number of cases stood at 17,707, an increase of 733 from Thursday. Nearly 2,500 people have been hospitalized.

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