Wisconsin's state fair, the largest single event in the state, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Fair Park Board chairman John Yingling decided to cancel the summer event that typically attracts more than 1 million people over 11 days.
The State Fair Park Board of directors voted earlier this week to give Yingling the authority to make the determination on his own of whether to cancel the fair.
After consultation with other authorities, Yingling opted for cancellation to preserve the safety of attendees and vendors.
"On behalf of the entire State Fair Park Board of Directors, please know that the decision to cancel the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair was not taken lightly," Yingling said. "Months of deliberation took place, considering all options to host a Fair that adheres to the highest standard of safety without compromising the experience. We explored countless models, but ultimately safety cannot be compromised. The risks associated with hosting an event of this size and scope right now are just too great."
Refunds are available for those who already purchased State Fair tickets, or those tickets can be used for the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair. Main stage concert tickets are also eligible for a refund, and will be automatically refunded for credit card purchases.
This year's state fair was scheduled to take place from Aug. 6-16.
The event comes just before the rescheduled Milwaukee Democratic National Convention, which is to take place from Aug. 17-20. The DNC has not yet said what it's plans are for the event.
Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, said she appreciates the thoughtfulness of the difficult decision to close the fair, whose economic impact is more than $200 million.
"Public safety must continue to be our top priority as a community, and I support the decision to cancel this year’s event in light of our current situation," Williams-Smith said. "I will miss the Fair, but I look forward to next year’s event, which will no doubt be a fun and lively experience with delicious food, local vendors, great music, and of course, exciting family activities."