State fairs herald the return of summer – but without the cheese curd tasting contests and grape trampling


Giant cream puffs will be sold, but there will be no cheese curd tasting contest at Wisconsin State Fair this year.

After last year’s cancellations due to Covid restrictions, states are bringing back their annual fairs with increased attention to safety, cleaning and sanitizing – along with a few changes.

“We see people gravitate towards normality – the events, people and places they missed last year,” said Misty Belles, managing director of the Virtuoso travel agency network. “Local celebrations that bring communities together, from street fairs to state fairs, are back. “

At this year’s Iowa State Fair, which runs August 12-22, there will be No Farm-to-Fair Dinner, a family-style sit-down meal for 500 people in which farmers from across the ‘Iowa answer questions, Mindy Williamson, the fair’s marketing director, mentioned. There will also not be the usual trampling of the grapes on the spot. However, fairground enthusiasts will find a new park for tractor pulls.

“We are very much aware of the reduction in budgets and reduced staffing in certain areas,” she said.

At the Indiana State Fair, which runs July 30 through August 30. On the 22nd, Covid vaccines will be available and fully vaccinated people will not be required to wear masks. Gastronomic competitions – including a championship of ice cream eaters – are suspended this year. And to distribute the crowds, the show organizers have added a weekend to the top of the show program but close the show on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The Eastern New England States Expo, known as “The Big E”, will run from September 17 to October 17. 3 without restrictions, said CEO Eugene Cassidy. “Minor changes will be unrecognizable, while others may be more obvious, such as a combined daily parade instead of two separate parades,” he said.

The Oregon State Fair, which runs from August 27 to September 7. 6, is also back at full capacity, without a mask or physical distancing or proof of vaccination, according to fair officials. But the dates for the California State Fair – Cal Expo – have not been set because the state’s fairground is still used as a center for mass vaccination. “As a result, we have been slow to contract with the event promoters,” said Tom Martinez, deputy general manager of Cal Expo.

As cities and states reopen their doors, they are going out of their way to grab the attention of visitors – and their travel dollars – beyond state fairs.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Country Music Star Brad Paisley Kick Off a “Tennessee on Me” campaign to promote tourism, offering 10,000 airfare vouchers for Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines valued at $ 250 each for visitors who book a two-night trip to Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis or Chattanooga.

“Tennessee is known the world over for its music, the beauty of its landscapes and its iconic attractions,” said Lee. “We’re ready for people to come back to Tennessee ‘on me’, to enjoy statewide live music created by our talented musicians and songwriters.”

Disney theme parks and attractions in Dollywood have been welcoming visitors for months, with safety protocols already in place – but with summer shifting into high gear, more and more attractions are reopening.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood reopened on June 26 after being closed for more than a year. Hours of operation are adjusted and there are new post-pandemic additions to the tour, including an expanded Central Perk Café where guests can dine in recreated settings inspired by the show.

At Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, “Our guests are enjoying the summer celebration, which opened on June 25 and includes the new multi-sensory fireworks and drone show,” said Pete Owens, a spokesperson. by Dollywood Company.

In New York City, the interior of the Statue of Liberty to the pedestal / interior (but not the crown) reopened to the public before the weekend of July 4. “We’re seeing a return to normal with an abundance of new and old events and attractions in the five boroughs,” said Chris Heywood of marketing firm NYC & Company, which includes NYC Restaurant Week and the US Open.

After being dismantled and refurbished, SkyWheel Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is back, featuring a new wheel structure, refurbished gondolas, and new state-of-the-art lighting systems for light shows.

Even the Enchanted Forest theme park near Salem, Oregon is welcoming visitors again. The family attraction had received death threats when it announced that masks and proof of vaccination would be required upon entry, so it pushed back its opening date until Covid restrictions were relaxed .

Cruises are also making a comeback – although limited this summer due to capacity restrictions.

“It took 15 months to be able to tell, but the cruise is officially back – and for North Americans there are a number of options to consider,” said Colleen McDaniel, editor of Cruise Critic. .

Ships must leave Florida and Texas for Caribbean cruises and Seattle for Alaska cruises, and travelers can also go to St. Maarten or the Bahamas and depart on select ships from those ports, he said. she declared.

Summer concert season has returned to many cities as well, with Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago on July 29 with headliners including Miley Cyrus, Foo Fighters and Post Malone. The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival is scheduled for September 2-5 in Manchester, Tennessee.

In the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Tanglewood is back with a full summer season of performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and concerts by Brandi Carlile, soul-gospel icon Mavis Staples and folk singer Judy Collins.

Maryland’s DelFest, founded by bluegrass pioneer Del McCoury, is also back on the books Sept. 23-26 – and McCoury, now 82, said he was eager to see the festival return.

“It’s the longest time I’ve ever spent without playing, and since my two sons are in the squad, it was particularly difficult,” he said. “I think it’s going to be very emotional. Tears came to my eyes several times as I read the notes about longtime fans’ enthusiasm to return. “

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