Minnesota State Fair marks 2021 a success despite lower attendance

Last day of the Minnesota State Fair in 2021.

While the fair had some of the lowest attendance numbers in decades, this weekend’s nice weather brought out a sizeable crowd.

On the last day of the fair, visitors said that while it was different this year, it was still great to get back together.

Gary Larue has performed eight of the fair’s 12 days inside Mancini’s. And in the waning hours of the final day, it’s bittersweet.

"It’s the highlight of my year, and every year I wind up exhausted at the end. But, it’s like the next day I can’t wait to come back," Larue said.

For those who have come to the fair, it feels like any other year - with one exception.

"There’s space to walk," said bagpiper Peri Stephens, "but there’s plenty of people still."

It’s still been busy but nowhere near as busy as we had become used to.

"You gotta remember that 2019 was a record year, no one thought we could do numbers that we did," said Tim Weiss with Giggle's Campfire Grill.

The fair had set records four years running before the COVID pause, and everyone knew this would be down, just not by how much.

"I think it’s 80% weather and 20% COVID related," Weis said.

The rainy first few days proved to be a rough start when people may have been on the fence already because of COVID concerns, and opening day saw its lowest attendance in 40 years.

But as the fair went on and weather improved, more ventured out.

And there are those who will not miss it no matter what - like the woman whose mother went into labor at the fair on Labor Day 50 years ago. 

"I just enjoy coming here and celebrating that I could have been this close to being part of state fair history," said Julie Cramond-Lourey.