Wisconsin State Fair canceled

    Secretary-designee Crim inspects a rollercoaster (photo courtesy of DSPS)
    Secretary-designee Crim at the Wisconsin State Fair with Tim Condon, an occupational safety inspector (photo courtesy of DSPS).

    The 2020 Wisconsin State Fair has been canceled, with organizers citing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    The fair’s 12-member board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to cancel the event. The fair, which was scheduled for Aug. 6-16, typically draws more than one million visitors over 11 days. Public health officials are currently advising against gatherings of more than ten people. 

    “On behalf of the entire State Fair Park Board of Directors, please know that the decision to cancel the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair was not taken lightly,” Wisconsin State Fair Park Board Chairman John Yingling said in a statement. “Months of deliberation took place, considering all options to host a Fair that adheres to the highest standard of safety without compromising the experience. We explored countless models, but ultimately safety cannot be compromised. The risks associated with hosting an event of this size and scope right now are just too great.”

    In addition to the health concerns, holding a fair with diminished attendance would be harmful to the future financial prospects of the fair, according to the statement. 

    The decision was made now because the fair is a “colossal undertaking” that requires thousands of moving parts, according to the fair website

    Fair organizers considered a number of other options — including temperature checks of every visitor and sanitizing rides after each use — before deciding to ultimately cancel the event, the site says. 

    Tickets already purchased for this year’s fair can be fully refunded by June 30 or used for the 2021 fair. People who purchased concert tickets are eligible for a full refund. 

    The site says to “stay tuned” about plans for a virtual or drive-thru fair and a decision about the Harvest Fair, scheduled at the fair park for Sept. 25-27, has not yet been made. 

    Next year’s  Wisconsin State Fair is scheduled for August 5-15, 2021.

    Henry Redman
    Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.