No giant slide? No Cracovia potato pancakes? No flavored milk from the Bucks? No cream puffs? A whole lotta nothin' on a stick? Thanks for nothing, 2020.
State Fair Park Board of Directors Chairman John Yingling made the awaited announcement late Thursday morning in a press release, saying, "for the safety of fairgoers, staff, vendors, entertainers, exhibitors, sponsors, suppliers and the broader community, the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair has been canceled."
In a virtual meeting held Tuesday, May 26 – with the clock ticking on a self-imposed end-of-May deadline – the board voted to allow Yingling to make the decision on the future of this year’s State Fair.
"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," said Yingling on Thursday.
"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."
The Wisconsin State Fair has only been canceled five times in its 169-year history, most recently in 1945, during World War II, at the request of the U.S. Office of War Transportation.
Three of the other cancellations were during the Civil War – 1861, '62 and '63 – and the fifth time was during the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
"The Wisconsin State Fair is so much more than just a fair – it is a celebration of everything we are so proud of in Wisconsin," said Kathleen O’Leary, CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park, in the news release Thursday.
"We understand the magnitude of disappointment you may be feeling. We feel it, too. However, safety is our top priority, and that cannot be compromised under any circumstance. We have tremendously loyal fairgoers, vendors, partners and exhibitors. For that we are forever grateful, and our greatest responsibility is to ensure that the fair remains strong and resilient for future generations."
Minnesota and Ohio canceled their fairs last week and the Iowa State Fair is expected to make a decision on its 2020 event soon. A few weeks ago Illinois' governor said that state's fair is unlikely to take place this year, though a final decision has not yet been announced.
As of now, Wisconsin’s other two state fairs have not been canceled.
Last year, the Wisconsin State Fair surpassed the 1 million mark for attendance for the seventh straight year, drawing 1,130,572.
Tickets purchased for this year's fair will be valid for the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair, or may be returned for a refund through June 30, 2020. Main Stage concert tickets can be returned for a full refund. Concert tickets purchased with a credit card will automatically be refunded to the card used to buy them.
For more details visit Wistatefair.com.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.