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U.P. State Fair postponed until 2021

ESCANABA — Due to ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, the U.P. State Fair — one of the area’s largest annual events — has officially been canceled for 2020. A press release on the cancellation was shared on the Facebook page “UP State Fairgrounds” Tuesday evening.

The fair had been scheduled for Aug. 17-23. A decision to postpone the event until 2021 was made by the U.P. State Fair Authority Tuesday.

“At the heart of the decision was the State of Michigan’s current crowd size restrictions that would vastly limit the Authority’s ability to provide the same familiar experience that fairgoers are used to,” the press release stated.

Further complicating matters were restrictions on rides in Michigan. Skerbeck Entertainment Group, which operates the fair’s carnival and midway, was notified by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs that amusement devices other than zip lines are not allowed to operate at this time.

Earlier in the course of the pandemic, the fair authority and Delta County Chamber of Commerce worked with local and state authorities to create health and safety plans for the fair. Along with these groups, fair organizers worked with focus groups and performed risk assessments to decide whether or not the fair should be held. Those involved with the process agreed that the fair could move forward while following the COVID-19 preparedness response plan if crowd size restrictions in Michigan were increased.

“While the State Fair Authority and the Delta County Chamber of Commerce are brokenhearted at the decision, we remain committed to the health and safety of the public. Canceling the fair complies with the law imposed by the Governor’s Executive Orders and is the right decision to make to support the fair’s future viability and success,” U.P. State Fair Authority Chair Phyllis French said.

Though the fair itself will not be taking place in 2020, efforts to organize a livestock exhibition are underway.

“Despite the postponement of this year’s State Fair, the Authority has asked the livestock departments to put together a plan to hold a livestock exhibition for our exhibitors,” U.P. State Fair Authority Vice-Chair and Department Advisory Committee Chair Ed McBroom said.

Vickie Micheau, executive director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, was optimistic about the fair’s future.

“We hope and believe that the 2021 U.P. State Fair can return to truly be the ‘Best Fair Yet,’ and look forward to keeping alive one of Michigan’s favorite annual events during a safer, healthier time,” she said.

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