There will be no Aitkin County Fair this summer — the first cancellation since 1946.
The county fair — scheduled to start Wednesday and run through July 14 — was canceled Tuesday after a vote by the Aitkin County Board.
The county fair was canceled because of the flooding in Aitkin, Kirk Peysar, Aitkin County auditor and fair board member, said. Peysar said 40 percent of the county fairgrounds is under water.
“The water is starting to recede, but the grounds are just saturated,” said Peysar. “The grounds first suffered from the heavy rains on June 20 and then the flooding that occurred after that point. The fairgrounds was swamped.”
Peysar said the fair board met a week earlier and discussed postponing the fair, but it was not working as the company that runs the Midway rides and the vendors already were booked at other county fairs around the state.
Peysar said the fair draws an average of 10,000 to 11,000 people a year.
“It’s a bad deal and the fair board is bummed,” said Peysar. “The fair is one of the highlights of the summer for people. But with the flooding and after-effects the grounds are not suitable and we can’t do it safely.”
Peysar said the fair originated in 1890 and this year’s fair would have been the 123rd fair. The last time the fair was canceled was in 1946 when there was a polio epidemic outbreak, recalled Peysar.
Peysar said the county continues to see high water levels and the rain from Wednesday night just adds to the mess.
According to the National Weather Service in Duluth, the flood warning continues for the Mississippi River near Aitkin. As of 1 p.m. Thursday, the stage was at 17.3 feet, with flood stage at 12 feet.