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2021 Freeborn County Fair canceled

The Freeborn County Fair Board on Friday announced that after much consideration, the board has canceled the 2021 fair.

“Along with concern for the safety of the public, the Fair Board is also responsible for the financial stability of the fair to ensure it will be able to continue for many years to come,” a press release stated.

Current COVID-19 restrictions in place through the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s office limit the number of attendees at both indoor and outdoor entertainment events.

The release said a decision had to be made at this time to avoid the large expense of entertainment, as there is no guarantee when restrictions will be lifted. The entertainment contracts alone, along with stage, sound and lights are $300,000.

Income received from other events throughout the year at the fairgrounds is also typically used to offset fair expenses, but there hasn’t been any event income since the fairgrounds was closed in May 2020 by Freeborn County commissioners.

“This is a very difficult decision that the board and I had to make, not taking it lightly,” said Fair Manager Mike Woitas. “We understand that people want to get out and enjoy the fair, but planning for a successful fair at this time when there isn’t any guarantee the restrictions will be lifted, would jeopardize the fair for years to come.”

The release stated the board is working with the 4-H program for a show for both livestock and non-livestock students.

This is the second year in a row for the fair to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Woitas in 2020 said before that, the last time the fair was canceled was in 1946 because of polio, and before that in 1903 because of rain.

Woitas said he hopes to secure the same entertainment for the 2022 fair that was booked for 2020 and 2021 before they were canceled.