WEST ALLIS, Wis. — With less than 24 hours to go, crews have been hustling, putting on the finishing touches before day one of the Wisconsin State Fair.
At the same time, the delta variant is fueling growing COVID-19 numbers across the state.
"We always keep health and safety a top priority of our fair-goers. We're certainly encouraging everyone to make the best decision for them, and if they're going to come up to the state fair," said Jen Puente, chief marketing officer of the Wisconsin State Fair.
At the fair, face masks are not required, but they are recommended when indoors. Organizers said they are putting out extra hand sanitizers, operating hours have changed from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to accommodate enhanced cleaning overnight, and parking and admissions will be cashless, while rides and games will use passes and wristbands.
"It's really important for us to put these safety measures in place so we can get back to some great traditions that our fair-goers have come to know and love over the years," Puente said.
In years past, you could count on the fair being packed. Doctors have said the setting makes it tough to socially distance and advised bringing a face mask.
"If you're not vaccinated, you have to be wearing your mask out of respect for other folks, just because you're putting other people at risk," said Dr. Molly Cousin, a pediatrician with the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center.
Dr. Cousin added that while those who are vaccinated can feel more reassured, they should mask up indoors due to high transmission risk, and possibly outdoors as well.
"State fair people come from all over the country. So you don't know if someone's coming up from the places where they have the delta variant in higher numbers. So it is a real transmission risk," Dr. Cousin said.
The doctor knows food is a huge attraction at the fair. She recommended staying close to the group you are with when eating.
State officials and fair organizers announced COVID-19 vaccine clinics from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on South Grandstand across from the sea lions splash lasting throughout the 10-day event. People who get their shot at the fair will receive a voucher for a free cream puff.