The 2020 Wisconsin State Fair has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced Thursday.
It was previously scheduled to be held from August 6 to August 16 at the fairgrounds in West Allis, a suburb outside Milwaukee.
"The board and staff have been closely monitoring COVID-19 data from local, state and federal health officials during this time," a statement announcing the cancellation reads.
"While some restrictions have recently been lifted and businesses are beginning to reopen, most are requiring strict safety measures, including social distancing, the wearing of masks and temperature checks," the statement continues. "The evidence that this disease spreads quickly and easily when people are in densely populated areas has led several agencies to continue their recommendation to avoid mass gatherings."
The Wisconsin State Fair is the largest event in the state, drawing more than a million people over 11 days each year, organizers said - adding that the fair's size "weighed heavily into the decision to cancel" it, with a priority on safety.
Organizers said the financial implications of "hosting a fair with significantly reduced attendance, as well as implementing the recommended mass gathering safety measures, could be detrimental to the future of State Fair Park."
"On behalf of the entire State Fair Park Board of Directors, please know that the decision to cancel the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair was not taken lightly," Wisconsin State Fair Park Board Chair John Yingling said in the statement. "Months of deliberation took place, considering all options to host a Fair that adheres to the highest standard of safety without compromising the experience. We explored countless models, but ultimately safety cannot be compromised. The risks associated with hosting an event of this size and scope right now are just too great."
Tickets already purchased for admission to this year's fair will be valid for the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair, organizers said. Refunds will also be available through June 30. Main Stage concert tickets are eligible for a full refund, according to the fair, and any of those tickets bought with a credit card will automatically be refunded back on the card used for the purchase.
Wisconsin has reported a total of 16,462 confirmed coronavirus cases and 539 deaths statewide. Milwaukee County, where the fair is held, has the largest number of cases of any county in the state, with 6,748 cases and 282 deaths, health officials say.