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The 2020 Mille Lacs County Fair has been canceled. Pictured is the Mille Lacs County 4-H Dairy Show from last year’s Fair. Kaitlyn Byker of the Brookside Buccaneer 4-H Club is pictured after leaving the cattle barn and heading to the holding area. 

The 2020 Mille Lacs County Fair has been canceled. In a press release dated May 28, the Fair’s Board of Directors announced the decision to cancel the Fair amid the coronavirus health pandemic. The vote to cancel the Fair was unanimous.

The Fair was scheduled for Aug. 5-9 at the fairgrounds in Princeton.

“The health and safety of our community, fair guests, 4-H and FFA members, volunteers, exhibitions and vendors is our top priority,” said the Mille Lacs County Fair via its press release. “As with all of you, we are disappointed, but know that the Board has made the right decision given the difficulty of enforcing social distancing requirements, providing proper disinfection and preserving our financial ability to present future fairs. As Board members, planning and executing the Fair is a labor of love and we will miss seeing all of you in 2020. Our energies will now focus on preparing the grounds for the 2021 Fair, which will be our 130th.”

The announcement comes just days after the Minnesota State Fair was also canceled due to COVID-19.

Michele McPherson, director of land services of Mille Lacs County and fair board member, said the committee could not envision a Fair once the State Fair was canceled. “The Board did not see how we could hold the Fair given that the State Fair canceled, multiple community events have canceled, and most of our neighboring fairs have been canceled,” said McPherson.

The Sherburne County Fair was canceled on May 19. Attempting to hold the Fair would also require resources that the Board did not possess and could lead to legal troubles added McPherson. “We would be facing an uncovered liability if we were to be sued due to a claim; trying to sanitize and disinfect appropriately would require an army of volunteers that we currently do not have.”

The Fair Board also noted that it will support any future event that may be planned to celebrate the accomplishments of the 4-H and FFA members.

The cancellation of the Fair does not affect Friday night races at the Princeton Speedway as those are run by Princeton Speedway Inc.

Looking ahead to the 2021 Mille Lacs County Fair, the board hopes to hold a Fair like usually, assuming COVID-19 permits them to do so. “At this point, we hope that we will be able to hold a fair just like in the past and maybe a little bigger since it will be the 130th. The chair of our Entertainment Committee is contacting all of the acts that we had scheduled for this year to see if they will be willing to perform in 2021,” explained McPherson. “We are disappointed, but are looking forward to a great Fair in 2021.”

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