No fair for Bemidji: Beltrami County Fair canceled for 2020

The cancellation of the Beltrami County Fair was announced on Tuesday due to the continued threat of the coronavirus pandemic. (Pioneer file photo)

BEMIDJI — Summer just won’t be the same in Bemidji this year.

On Tuesday, June 16, it was announced that the Beltrami County Fair, set to happen Aug. 12-16, had been canceled due to the continued threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fair, which has been held every year since 1904, is now planned for August 11-15, 2021.

“This year with the specter of a very contagious and deadly virus, we have reluctantly reached consensus as a board to postpone our 2020 Beltrami County Fair…,” the Beltrami County Fair board said in a release. “Guidance from local, state and federal agencies, along with daily bulletins and long-term bans on large festivals with no end in sight, greatly influenced this decision.”

The announcement comes nearly a month after the Minnesota State Fair was canceled . At the time, the Beltrami County Fair board said it would continue cautious preparation for the fair and revisit its options at a board meeting on June 15.


But with many of the fair’s usual vendors and activities hesitant -- as well as declining -- to participate, the board made the choice to put the fair on hold.

“There are not enough of us nor the huge army of volunteers that assists yearly to make this happen,” the release said. “However, we are not giving up.”

As of now, the fair board is looking at “a number of alternative, smaller and manageable” fair-related activities, which can take place safely and according to health guidelines.

A subcommittee has been formed to explore these alternative options, and those looking to pitch an idea should call the fair office at (218) 444-8169 or email at .

Currently, the Gold Mine Ranch Triple B Rodeo, scheduled for Aug. 14-15, has not been canceled or postponed.

Additionally, the scope of 4-H participation is unclear at this point, but the fair board continues to offer its full support to this endeavor, the release said.

Despite the fair’s cancellation, the fair board will continue to work on facility updates at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds. They are currently working on a new entrance and patio area in front of the Home Arts Department, as well as updates to the fine arts display area.

There will be several upgrades to the horse arena, including a wash rack, a new warm-up pen and repairs to the handicapped access ramp. These changes are being made to make “the horse experience safer and more convenient.”


In the future, there will also be a new kid-friendly educational exhibit for the dairy barn called Maggie the Cow.

"Every one of us enjoys seeing the smiles and memories that are made by our fellow citizens and visitors from around the country. We work hard to ensure these great traditions occur annually,” the release said. “While our County Fair may not look the same, we hope to reinvent the magic and give everyone something to look forward to.”

To keep up-to-date with fair news, visit and Facebook page, Beltrami County Fair .

Fair Food

For those disappointed about missing out on all the tasty fair food this year, be sure to check out the Fair Food Finder Facebook group, a place for people to share when and where vendors will be selling their concessions.

For example, Miller's Concessions, a Beltrami County Fair regular that serves a variety of cheese curds, mini donuts and funnel cakes, can be found in St Cloud.

In the 20 or so days since the group was created, it has gone viral and now has more than 90,000 members. Vendors can pin their locations to the group’s Google Map , so folks can find fair food closest to them.

Currently, the Gold Mine Ranch Triple B Rodeo, scheduled for Aug. 14-15, has not been canceled or postponed. (Pioneer file photo)

Bria Barton covers travel and tourism for Forum News Service and is based at the Bemidji Pioneer. A South Carolina native and USC grad, she can be found exploring Minnesota’s abundance of towns, food and culture. Follow her on Instagram @briabarton.
What To Read Next
Get Local