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Alaska State Fair canceled over pandemic uncertainty

People walk through the fair grounds on the opening day of the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

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The 2020 Alaska State Fair in Palmer has been canceled, organizers said in a statement Friday.

The Alaska State Fair Board of Directors and CEO Jerome Hertel made the decision based on the continued uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Hertel said in the statement.

“We need to make decisions now based on what we know today, not how we hope things will be in August,” Hertel said.

The fair was originally scheduled to take place from Aug. 22 through Sept. 2 at the state fairgrounds in Palmer.

Organizers hope to hold the fair in 2021, according to Hertel. This year’s cancellation is the first since 1942, during World War II, Hertel said.

“We have now reached the point that with all the conjecture surrounding mandates and recommendations for mass gatherings of this scale, it just will not be possible to deliver the same experience fairgoers have come to expect from the state’s largest celebration,” Hertel said of the decision to cancel this year’s event.

People who have already paid for fair tickets using credit cards will automatically be refunded, according to Hertel, and those who paid using another form of payment will be contacted about a refund.

Dale Marshall of Anchorage reacts to breaking the state record with his 2051-pound pumpkin during the weigh-off at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

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