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Poll: Majority of Minnesotans agree with decision to hold State Fair, though many don’t plan to attend

Concern about COVID-19 is a major factor in some regular fairgoers’ decision not to attend this year.

Minnesota State Fair
How are Minnesotans on-the-whole feeling about the pandemic State Fair?
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

For months leading up to the State Fair, one of the most asked questions for health officials and Gov. Tim Walz at press conferences was whether the Great Minnesota Get-Together was likely to be held this year after being canceled due to the pandemic in 2020.

In June, Fair officials decided the event was on. But as the more infectious delta variant of COVID-19 became predominant in the state over the summer, and as the Fair board decided to proceed without a mask mandate or vaccination requirement, the question for some Minnesotans became whether to go or skip it this year.

How are Minnesotans on-the-whole feeling about the pandemic State Fair? MinnPost included two questions about the Great Minnesota Get-Together in a statewide poll of registered voters conducted by Change Research in recent days to find out.

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Fair questions

Lots of Minnesotans are staying home from the Fair this year, as evidenced by a lack of long lines — even at the most popular attractions — the ability to walk about the fairgrounds unimpeded by crowds and low attendance numbers relative to 2019:

Minnesota State Fair attendance 2019 and 2021
Source: Minnesota State Fair

But the MinnPost/Change Research poll suggests most Minnesotans who are registered voters ultimately agree with the decision to hold the State Fair this year: 58 percent said they strongly or somewhat agree with the decision, compared to just 37 percent said they strongly or somewhat disagree. Five percent said they weren’t sure.

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People who identified as Republicans or lean Republican were more likely to support the decision to hold the Fair: 82 percent somewhat or strongly agreed with the decision, compared to 12 percent who somewhat or strongly disagreed. The majority of Democrats and leaners — 60 percent — somewhat or strongly disagreed with the decision to hold the Fair compared to 36 percent who somewhat or strongly agreed.

The pandemic is a major factor in some regular fairgoers’ decision not to attend this year. Of those polled:

  • 25 percent of respondents said they never go to the Fair.
  • 22 percent said they will not attend this year not because of COVID-19.
  • 18 percent said they go sometimes but not this year because of COVID-19, including 31 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners and 4 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners.
  • 14 percent said they usually go but won’t this year because of COVID-19. This included 24 percent of Democrats and those who lean toward the party and 3 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners.
  • 11 percent said they usually go and will go this year.

Full Fair question results can be found here.

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Methodology

The poll was conducted from August 28 to 31 and respondents included 1,945 registered voters.

Change Research’s online polling methodology uses targeted social media ads and text messages to recruit respondents. The organization has a B- pollster rating from FiveThirtyEight.

The company uses a “modeled” margin of error, which it says accounts for the effects of weighting the poll. The results were weighted on age, gender, race/ethnicity, 2020 vote, education, and region. The modeled margin of error for the statewide sample was +/- 2.5 percentage points. The margin of error for Democrats and leaners is +/- 3.7 percentage points. For Republicans and leaners it is +/- 3.7 percentage points.

More information on the methodology can be found here.

Keep an eye on MinnPost in the coming days for more reporting on the poll, which includes questions about political figures, issues and the pandemic.

Note: The margins of error in this story have been updated to use the modeled margin of error.