WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Final touches are being put on vendor booths, 4H shows and the Cream Puff Pavilion before the Wisconsin State Fair opens to visitors Thursday after a year off due to COVID-19. The gates open at 11 a.m., and thousands are expected to head to the annual tradition.
The opening of the fair comes against the backdrop of a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the more contagious Delta variant. Organizers say safety is top priority for visitors.
Masks are not required but recommended indoors. There are increased sanitizing stations, parking and admission will be cashless, and rides will use wristbands instead of tickets.
“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,” said Chief Marketing Officer Jen Puente.
The fair will also change hours to accommodate more cleaning. Gates will open at 11 a.m. and close at 11 p.m., except for the final Sunday of the fair, when it will close at 10 p.m. Parking lots will open a half hour earlier at 10:30 a.m.
Vendors that missed out on 2020 business are happy to be back in action for 2021.
“We really missed seeing everybody here at the fair, friends and people that you get to know over the years,” said Ben Suehring, owner of S&J Popcorn.
Student livestock handlers are also happy to be back. “None of these kids had an opportunity to show in 2020, so I think a lot of people here are really excited to be here and show tomorrow,” said Jordan Renn of Waukesha County.
The Wisconsin State Fair runs from Thursday Aug. 5 to Aug. 15 at State Fair Park in West Allis.