A man who grew up across from State Fair Park and has been to 57 consecutive Wisconsin State Fairs was ultimately the one who made the painful decision to cancel this year’s fair.
For Wisconsin State Fair Park Board Chairman John Yingling, the cancellation of the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair hurts on many levels.
“This is an agonizing decision, a decision we really didn’t want to see come to this point,” Yingling told WTMJ’s Steve Scaffidi Thursday morning, shortly after the announcement.
“I am a West Allis guy. I grew up on 76th and Greenfield. I’ve been coming to the Fair since 1963. The Fair has been in my blood.”
But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for physical distancing for people’s safety, Yingling felt there were too many challenges to hold the Fair, even in a modified way.
“It was safety. When we looked at the safety of our fair-goers, our youth, our exhibitors, our vendors, our operators, the decision was that we couldn’t really have a large mass gathering,” Yingling said.
He spoke of the incredible level of logistics involved in holding, possibly delaying or creating social distancing measures to hold the event in some fashion. Among the concerns: the shortage of food like beef and chicken.
“Six weeks ago, there was no problem with the supply chain. We sell a lot of (meat) on these grounds,” said Yingling.
“The world changed again. That goes into all our food and beverage vendors.”
The cancellation is yet another domino falling in terms of the continued closure of mass gathering events due to the virus, and the pain fair-goers feel is palpable.
they canceled state fair 🥺 no turkey leg, no funnel cake omg— prince$$ 👅 (@AaliyahMarieee2) May 28, 2020
they cancelled state fair and now I’m v sad— ΚΑΤΞLΔΝ (@katelynlipson) May 28, 2020
“We all share your disappointment. This, again, has been a very agonizing decision. We all love the State Fair here,” Yingling said in response.
“We hope they would understand these unprecedented times have basically called our hand, and called it out in a way we didn’t want to see. Ultimately, we had to make a decision based on safety.”