With Minnesota State Fair canceled, 4-H to find 'alternate experience' for youth

Feature in the cattle barn at the State Fair. -- An exhausted Linda Thompson of Starbuck, age 16, slept near her holstein calf, left rear, during the first day of the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul August 26, 1999. Thompson is a member of 4-H and w ( CHERYL DIAZ MEYER/Star Tribune via Getty Images )

Minnesota 4-H is working to find an "alternate experience" for thousands of youth who will not be able to exhibit their animals and projects at the Minnesota State Fair this year. 

The 2020 Minnesota State Fair was officially canceled Friday over concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The cancelation is “particularly hard” for 4-H youth and their families, according to Minnesota 4-H, which is part of the University of Minnesota Extension. Approximately 5,600 4-H’ers come to the State Fair over the 12 days to exhibit approximately 2,300 projects in the 4-H Building and 2,800 livestock in the animal barns. 

In a news release, Minnesota 4-H and the University of Minnesota Extension said they are hoping to share their plans for ways they can create new experiences for 4-H’ers this year. 

“It won’t replace the fair, but we are committed to meaningful programming,” U of M Extension Dean Beverly Durgan said in a statement. 

Youth are chosen to represent their local 4-Hprogram at the state fair often by first participating in their local county fair. A number of county fairs have already been canceled this summer as well and the status of many others is uncertain. 

COUNTY FAIRS: Which ones are canceled, still on or waiting to make a decision