Minnesota State Fair down in half on day one

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FALCON HEIGHTS, Minnesota (AP) _ Attendance on the first day of the Minnesota State Fair declined by about half as the fair returned after missing it due to the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Amid simmering concerns about the Delta variant and the refusal of exhibition officials to request masks or proof of vaccination, 61,983 attendees were in attendance on Thursday. That’s less than half of the 2019 record of about 133,000.

Thursday’s slight turnout was likely also affected by violent thunderstorms that broke through Minneapolis-St. Paul area in the afternoon.

Fair officials announced earlier this month that they would not need face masks or vaccination certificates for this year’s event.

Around 150 providers have withdrawn, but labor shortages and supply chain problems have also been cited as factors.

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