Survey: Is the MN State Fair the Next Sturgis (Some Think So)
With the Minnesota State Fair just days away, a Reddit user has raised this question: Is the Great Minnesota Get-Together just going to be the next Sturgis Rally?
Earlier this week, Minnesota State Fair organizers revealed their health guidelines for the fair. Those guidelines essentially amount to that COVID-19 vaccinations and masks will not be required (though will be strongly encouraged), and there will be no capacity cap on attendance. There are a few exceptions to when and where masks will be required, which you can read about here.
The annual Sturgis Bike Rally out in South Dakota just wrapped up, and it got a lot of flack and accusations for being a super-spreader event. Reports say that more than 525,000 visitors showed up for this year's rally, up nearly 14% from last year. While opponents criticized the event for being irresponsible, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem defended the event, saying “I think it’s interesting that this side, this political party, the Democrats, who embrace getting abortion on demand, are accusing us of embracing death when we’re just allowing people to make personal choices and have personal responsibility over when they want to assemble, when they want to gather and spend time outdoors enjoying their way of life." Another major event, music festival Lollapalooza in Chicago, was just held and touted afterwards as a success with "no evidence" of connection to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
With the Minnesota State Fair -- which in 2019 saw over 2.1 million attendees -- approaching, one Minnesotan has taken to Reddit to ask publicly: Is the Minnesota State Fair the next Sturgis rally?
"Packing tens of thousands of people from around the Midwest into a somewhat confined area with what is looking like somewhat lax/optional mask rules," Reddit user u/minnesota2194 wondered, "Sturgis took a lot of heat but I feel the State Fair is getting much less so."
"Exact same thing, except state fair has less leather," agreed one Reddit user. "I suppose Sturgis had more people from a more widely spread geographic location too."
"Sturgis brings together hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country. [...] MN State Fair mostly brings together people within Minnesota. By that nature, it's likely that more of them are vaccinated and may actually wear masks," reasoned another. "I doubt it, though. MN State Fair is going to be a super spreader event."
"People were worked up about Sturgis last year too and very little came of it," countered one Reddit user. "There's significant community transmission anyway, if you get COVID it'll most likely be from the people you're in contact with regularly."
"Ironic story: a biker from Rochester, MN loudly and vocally protested his right to not wear a mask to Sturgis, and he is now dead after contracting COVID at Sturgis," pointed out on Redditor, referring to this story.
"Sturgis brings together people from around the country, exposing them to regional virus mutations, and then sends them back to those states, reasoned one. "State fair is targeted at families and kids, and will be a spreading event locally."
Personally, I think the Redditor's question "Is the Minnesota State Fair the next Sturgis" depends on your perspective of what the Sturgis Rally is/was. If you view it as a successful event after which no alarming numbers of COVID cases arose, then yes -- the Minnesota State Fair can be that, too. If, however, you view Sturgis as a super-spreader event from which alarming numbers of COVID cases arose and people died as a result, then yes -- the Minnesota State Fair will be that, too.
As they say, "Time will tell," and right now it seems that we're still waiting for events like Sturgis and Lollapalooza to tell.
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