WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin State Fair was canceled Thursday due to the coronavirus pandemic, marking the first time since 1945 that the 169-year-old annual tradition will not take place.

The move was widely expected given the cancellation of state fairs across the country and most major events, including Summerfest in Milwaukee. The fair, scheduled for August in West Allis, attracts more than a million people who down cream puffs, ride roller coasters, check out 4-H exhibits and take in concerts over its 11-day run.

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The safety of fair goers weighed heavily in the decision to cancel, said Wisconsin State Fair Park Board Chairman John Yingling. The board voted on Tuesday to give Yingling the power to decide whether to proceed or cancel the venerable event.

“Please know that the decision to cancel the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair was not taken lightly,” Yingling said in a statement. “Months of deliberation took place, considering all options to host a Fair that adheres to the highest standard of safety without compromising the experience. We explored countless models, but ultimately safety cannot be compromised. The risks associated with hosting an event of this size and scope right now are just too great.”

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