Iowa State Fair kicks off after COVID-19 cancellation: 'We're getting back to normal'

Iowa State Fair opens with few COVID-19 rules as cases increase (Stephen Goin)

DES MOINES, Iowa – From the Ferris wheel to the butter cow and the long lines in between, the Iowa State Fair is back after being canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19.

The fair kicked off Thursday and more than 1 million people are expected to attend over the fair’s 11 days. 

The fairgrounds were bustling on Friday and local vendors like George Migliero told Fox News he was happy to see the crowds and make up for last year’s lost sales.

G Mig’s owner George Migliero said he relies on State Fair Revenue to supplement his brick-and-morter restaurant.
(Stephen Goin)

Migliero owns G Mig’s 5th Street Pub in Des Moines and said he relies on revenue from the Iowa State Fair every year. 

“We’re getting back to normal and seeing all these people, it’s wonderful,” he said. “You kind of count on that money that’s going to be coming in helping with the business.”

The fair is expected to be big help to Iowa’s economy. Iowa State Fair CEO Gary Slater said the impact could measure more than $100 million. 

However, the fair’s big crowds have sparked COVID-19 fears as the delta variant surges. As of Wednesday, there are 335 Iowans hospitalized with the virus; a nearly 66% increase from last week according to the Iowa Health Department, the Des Moines Register reported. 

The Iowa State Fair kicked off Thursday; 1 million people are expected to attend the 11 day event.
(Stephen Goin)

“We’ve written probably 50 plans for COVID protocol here on the grounds,” Slater said. “We hope people follow the recommendations. “We hope that a day coming to Iowa State Fair is maybe a bit of an oasis.”

Slater told Fox News that masks are recommended for non-vaccinated people in all fairground locations and for vaccinated people indoors. He said the fair is also equipped with hand sanitizing and hand washing stations as well as a vaccine site.

With about 51% of Iowans vaccinated, local health officials have expressed concerns. The outcome of the Iowa State Fair could serve as a model for more than 20 states across the country as they plan to host state fairs in August.

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