Last year, the Wright County Fair was cancelled for the first time since World War II (when the County Fairgrounds were being used as a German prisoner of war camp) due to COVID-19. Organizers held out hope entering last summer that it could come off as planned, but once the Minnesota State Fair was officially cancelled in late-May, Wright County followed suit shortly thereafter.
At its meeting Monday night, the Wright County Fair Board began discussing the possibility of the fair being canceled again in 2021 and weighing the options of how to proceed.
Mike Kaczmarek, who represents the Wright County Board of Commissioners on the Fair Board as a non-voting member said the current COVID-19 protocols for the size of allowable gatherings would not make the County Fair possible unless the current restrictions are lifted.
“They just don’t know if they can have it yet,” Kaczmarek said. “With the current restrictions that are still in place, you can’t have more than 250 people per venue at an outdoor event. If that remains the case, they won’t have the fair again this. They can’t foresee what the situation is going to be in July. Nobody can. They have agreements in place to roll over last year’s contracts to this year, but they aren’t any closer now to knowing as they were a couple of months ago or even last August. We just are waiting, watching and hoping like everyone else.”
2020 was supposed to be the 150th Wright County Fair. Because it wasn’t the 150th annual County Fair, when the decision was made to pull the plug on the 2020 fair, the 150th celebration was pushed back to 2021.
There hasn’t been any discussion yet about the potential of canceling the fair again because, with the vaccination process beginning to combat the pandemic, there is reason for optimism that things can improve. However, there remain concerns that, if there are still COVID-19 restrictions lingering into the summer, attendance at the fair might be down.
As of now, the plan is to have the 150th Wright County Fair July 21-25, 2021. But, until the state lifts the restrictions or allows for large gatherings beyond the current number of 250, the County Fair remains in a state of limbo for 2021.
“You’re always hopeful that things will get better and that we can return to having events like the County Fair,” Kaczmarek said. “But, as of right now, we don’t have any answers that are positive that we will be able to have it. If you can only have 250 people at a venue, there would be no reason to have the fair this year. We hope that will change because we’re still six months away, but, for right now, we’re still waiting and hoping the situation will change.”