MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – All around the state, people look forward to the end of summer for the Great Minnesota Get-Together. But this August, the state fairgrounds will be deserted.

Stephanie Olson, a vendor at the fair, said “along with my 60 to 75 employees it helped them pay their bills as well, so financially it is impactful.”

Operating the Blue Moon Dine-In Theatre for the past 14 years had been her family’s sole source of income. It will be a huge financial blow, but one Olson says they will survive.

“Should we have waited longer? No one will ever know, but one thing is true, it is the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” Olson says of the decision.

The State Fair’s executive director, Jerry Hammer, said the board’s decision was an all-or-nothing expo.

“If we would attempt to cobble something together it wouldn’t be anything anyone would recognize and you sure wouldn’t like it,” said Hammer.

For the past 47 years, Dan Wozniak’s family has diced potatoes and filled buckets of French fries.

“Jerry and Jim and all of them they made the right decision, they had to do this,” said Wozniak.

Yet, it is painful. His two stands employ over 160 seasonal workers. Many of his 10 managers have been with him for 20 to 30 years.

Aside from the financial hit, is the social one. Having no State Fair to share with Minnesotans at summer’s end will be a blow to the psyche.

“There are hundreds of people you only really see there, but we’re not going to be able to do that,” explains Wozniak.

And that will impact everyone from fairgoers to farmers. Wozniak points out that his Sherburne County potato grower is suddenly out an order of a-quarter-of-a-million pounds of fresh potatoes.

Bill Hudson

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