This Wisconsin State Fair has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The board of directors overseeing the state’s largest gathering said while some social distancing restrictions have been lifted, the annual 11-day gathering, which attracts more than 1 million people, was too risky.
The fair made the announcement Thursday, citing the safety of attendees and employees and a desire to prevent spreading the disease.
The fair is now scheduled to be Aug. 5-15, 2021.
The cancelation comes as counties and municipalities across the state have created a patchwork of restrictions and guidelines on how businesses, government services and public spaces can open back up safely to residents.
The Wisconsin State Fair Park Board of Directors and staff have been discussing the 2020 fair for several months, according to the release, while monitoring COVID-19's footprint in Wisconsin and across the country.
The release said the following on how it made the decision:
"The board and staff have been closely monitoring COVID-19 data from local, state and federal health officials during this time. While some restrictions have recently been lifted and businesses are beginning to re-open, most are requiring strict safety measures, including social distancing, the wearing of masks and temperature checks. The evidence that this disease spreads quickly and easily when people are in densely populated areas has led several agencies to continue their recommendation to avoid mass gatherings."
According to the release, the board also considered "the magnitude of the financial implications" of hosting a fair with significantly reduced attendance along with added costs with safety measures needed to maintain safety amid a mass gathering.
"We understand the magnitude of disappointment you may be feeling," said chair John Yingling. "We feel it too. However, safety is our top priority, and that cannot be compromised under any circumstance. We have tremendously loyal fairgoers, vendors, partners and exhibitors. For that we are forever grateful, and our greatest responsibility is to ensure that the fair remains strong and resilient for future generations."
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Testing across the state has increased, and the number of positive cases across the state have grown.
There were 16,462 positive cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the state Department of Health Services. According to health officials, 539 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19 as of Wednesday. DHS has also reported 210,605 negative tests for the coronavirus as of Wednesday.
People who already purchased admission tickets for the fair can use them at the 2021 fair or get a refund through June 30, 2020. Main Stage concert tickets are eligible for a full refund. Concert tickets purchased with a credit card will automatically be refunded. The fair has been happening for 169 years.
Editor's note: This story will be updated.