MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota tradition that has marked the end of summer for generations sadly won’t happen this year.

After considering delaying, restricting and re-organizing the State Fair organizers say there’s just no way to pull it off during a pandemic.

Wars and outbreaks have been about the only things that have taken down the Minnesota State Fair. This year, it’s COVID-19.

The first cancellation in Sweet Martha’s 40 year run.

“Very emotional, very emotional because it’s sort of the head-heart thing, you know. I totally understand the reasoning,” said Martha Rossini Olson, founder of Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar.

The fair itself will miss out on tens of millions. Last year alone, it made more than $63 million. But the estimated, year-round impact on the Twin Cities is more like $268 million a year.

The woman behind the big yellow cookie buckets has the most to lose as the fair’s top vendor. Grossing roughly $4.7 million in 2018.

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“It is quite the difference for all of us,” Olson said.

“We were trying to prepare for the worst and hoping for the best,” said Tim “Giggles” Weiss who owns Giggles’ Campfire Grill another top performing vendor bringing in roughly $555,000 in 2018.

Aside from profit loss, jobs will also disappear.

“When we ramp up for the fair we have 254 employees,” Weiss said.

Sweet Martha’s started building employee schedules in February.

“Because we hire about 850 people,” Olson said.

All in, the State Fair provided 13,000 jobs last year — including 3,000 fair workers and 10,000 vendor jobs.

The losses are piling up. But the passion for the fair is stronger than ever.

“We love you, all those cookie lovers out there,” Olson said. “I know that we’re going to be coming back stronger than ever.”

“We’ll survive. Nobody’s gotta feel sorry for us,” Weiss said. “Go support your local businesses, go support your local establishments because they really really need it right now.”

If you already purchased fair admission or Grandstand tickets, you can get either get a refund or keep your tickets for 2021.

Refund information and more can be found here. 

Erin Hassanzadeh

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