MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The state fairgrounds have seen rain six of the last nine days. Crowds were already expected to be thinner due to health-safety concerns. The pandemic has meant fewer guests at many attractions like the Skyride.

Through Thursday, about 769,000 fairgoers have walked through the gates. That compares to 1.2 million at this time during the last fair in 2019.

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Last month, WCCO reported about 150 vendors skipped out on the fair this year due to COVID and staffing shortages. While vendors forecasted smaller crowds this year, the inconsistent weather has brought on the unexpected.

“We were expecting a little more. We got hit with the weather the first weekend,” said Pat Mancini, the owner of Mancini’s al Fresco. “You have to prepare for a big fair, you just have to. You just don’t know especially this year with products being tough to get and what not, so yes, you had to order kind of heavy.”

With heavy inventory in the back, Mancini’s will have a special during the last day of the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Donating to charity is also in the plan.

“A lot of perishable stuff, we’ll bring to Little Sisters of the Poor in St. Paul. Other than that we do have our restaurant. Our fresh bread and stuff like that, we’ll be able to use it there,” said Mancini.

In walking distance, Luigi Fries said they’re just happy to be back at the fair.

“We got a lot of excited fans of Luigi Fries coming back, so happy we’re here,” said Krysta Person with Luigi Fries.

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Person said they do inventory everyday to plan the best they can. While Person doesn’t expect too much excess food, they plan on donating leftovers and sharing with friends and family.

“I hope this weekend will be a busy weekend, hoping with the weather there will be busier days,” said Person.

A few blocks away at Giggles Campfire Grill, Tim Weiss is also glad to have his job back.

“We got lines up at Giggles Campfire Grill, what can I say? Crowds are a little lighter than normal, the handle is right about the same as 50% down. I’m just happy to be here and if I make a profit it’s a bonus,” said Weiss.

Giggles typically makes food by the hand, so there won’t be too many leftovers. But if there are extra food, Weiss already made commitments to who will be getting those. He added that the business could also use it for private parties.

Sweet Martha’s Cookies is a staple at the State Fair. Martha told WCCO her extra supplies will be given to the manufacturer of her frozen cookies. Those will be sold in the grocery stores.

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