'Hard to swallow': Minnesota State Fair vendors react to cancellation

Minneapple Pie opened a stand at the Minnesota State Fair in 2011.

With the cancellation of the Minnesota State Fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic, vendors’ plans for the summer have changed drastically. While vendors say the board’s decision Friday didn’t come as a complete surprise, the news still stings. 

“It is hard to swallow still," said George Atsidakos, who runs the Minneapple Pie stand.

The cancellation of this year’s Minnesota State Fair, marks his 12th cancelled event since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the Minnesota State Fair makes up 50 percent of his annual revenue.

“We have events in October and September in North Carolina and Oklahoma, so we’re hoping that those state fairs happen,” said Atsidakos.

Usually by Memorial Day weekend, Brad Ribar is planting corn and trying to lock down nearly 200 workers for his Corn Roast stand. Now, he’s filled with mixed emotions.

“It came as no surprise as big an event as this is, I don't know how they could have pulled it off,” said Ribar. “But sad on the other side because this is something we love to do. Never been through a summer without a fair."

Ribar says the two dozen state and county fairs that make up his sole source of income have all been canceled because of COVID-19. He says he can financially survive a year without the best 12 days of summer, but not two. 

“It will be a tough pill to swallow, especially when that week comes, but if it comes back next year, we'll have the biggest fair we've ever see," he said.

While there’s countless reasons the Fair will be missed this year, from the financial impacts to the educational opportunities, the owner of Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar also agrees with the board’s decision. 

“Just can’t wait for us to get passed this and we will, we will get through all of this,” said Martha Rossini Olson of Sweet Martha’s. “And we are already getting better for what we have been through. Can’t wait to see you in 2021.”

Some vendors told FOX 9 they are already entertaining the idea of doing a smaller scale alternative, but what that could look like remains to be seen.