Vendor hopes Wisconsin State Fair is downsized rather than canceled

Posted at 5:26 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 21:12:07-04

A decision on the fate of the Wisconsin State Fair is expected to be made before the end of the week.

The Wisconsin State Fair Park Board of Directors held an urgent virtual meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter, but a decision has yet to be made by the board chairman.

A West Allis vendor told TMJ4 News he hopes the event is downsized rather than canceled. Freese’s Candy Shoppe and Heavenly Roasted Nuts in downtown West Allis is still serving customers.

“We make all our own candies and chocolates,” said manager Sam Matel. “We hand dip them, hand make them all.”

But like most family businesses, Freese’s has taken a big hit during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been tough,” Matel said.

Matel is holding onto hopes that the Wisconsin State Fair will still happen this August, especially after receiving their newly wrapped trailer Tuesday afternoon for the event.

“This was going to be our fifth location at the fair, so it will really hurt if we aren’t able to have it this year,” he said.

On Tuesday, the State Fair Park Board of Directors gave board chairman John Yingling the authority to decide whether to cancel events scheduled at the fairgrounds this summer, including the Wisconsin State Fair. A spokeswoman for Wisconsin State Fair Park said Tuesday afternoon that Yingling has yet to make a decision, but officials told vendors like Matel they’ll find out this week.
“The best case scenario is they limit the number of people and make sure everybody stays a safe distance,” Matel said.

Matel worries the odds aren’t good for Wisconsin’s state fair happening after Minnesota’s was canceled last week. The Wisconsin State Fair hasn’t missed a year since World War II.
“It’s out of our hands,” Matel said. “If we can open up, we’ll open up under the right guidelines and we’ll go from there.”

The  Exposition Center at State Fair Park remains home to an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients should the need arise in southeastern Wisconsin for more hospital beds. As of now, there are no plans to decommission the facility.

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