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North Dakota State Fair canceled due to coronavirus

North Dakota State Fair canceled due to coronavirus

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This summer's North Dakota State Fair has been canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, eliminating an annual tradition for hundreds of thousands of people and cutting tens of millions of dollars from the economy of North Dakota's fourth-largest city.

"This decision is in the best interest for all involved," fair officials said in a statement Monday. "It is impossible to predict the scale of this pandemic, and our concern is for the health and safety of our community, our attendees, exhibitors, vendors, staff and all involved with the North Dakota State Fair."

The fair is the largest annual event in the state, attracting about 300,000 people each year to the State Fairgrounds in Minot. It began in 1922. A new grandstand was built in 2010.

"Our situation is different in that thousands of people come to the fair to be together with friends and family," the fair's statement said. "We want to continue this tradition that we are a meeting place to get together."

The fair has been canceled one other time since becoming the official state fair in 1966. It was called off in 2011 due to Souris River flooding that swamped part of Minot and prompted the evacuation of thousands of people.

Tickets for this year's nine-day event went on sale in late March. All tickets purchased with a credit card will be refunded to that account.

The grandstand entertainment lineup for this year included country acts Eric Church, Ashley McBryde, Sawyer Brown and Dan + Shay. Rock artists were Billy Idol; and Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra and special guest Tonic. Musical comedy group Bobby Bones & the Raging Idiots also was scheduled, along with an Enduro Race and Freestyle Motocross.

State Fair General Manager Renae Korslien said officials have been “greatly touched by the strong support that we have received during these challenging days.”

“It just reminds us all what makes this state and city so special and make us in the State Fair family even more determined to make next year’s Fair even greater, when it’s safer for us to be together again,” she said.

It's the second big festival in Minot to be called off due to the pandemic.

The Norsk Hostfest board of directors in March canceled the annual Scandinavian heritage festival set for Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the State Fairgrounds. The Hostfest is billed as the largest Scandinavian heritage festival in North America. Each year it draws about 60,000 people for food, music and other entertainment. It had operated for 42 consecutive years.

The Hostfest and the State Fair together contribute about $90 million to Minot's economy, according to Visit Minot Executive Director Stephanie Schoenrock.

Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or blake.nicholson@bismarcktribune.com.

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