Highly anticipated Minnesota State Fair kicks off

(KSTP) – Day One of the 2021 Minnesota State Fair brought many people out to the fairgrounds after a year off due to the pandemic.

"I told my daughter I’m so excited I’m going back to the fair," Joan Kincade, from Inver Grove Heights, said.

"It is fantastic, it’s one of the best get-togethers in the state of Minnesota," Chuck Peterson, who was raised in Inver Grove Heights, added.

But it’s hard to ignore the pandemic. Among the herd of hungry fairgoers, many are deciding to mask up while others are not.

"We had to debate whether we would come here or not, we’re definitely going to take precautions," said Sam Shryock, who’s visiting from Kansas City.

"I like how they handled it at the State Fair," Jake Duesenberg, president of Action 4 Liberty, said. "We’re all about choice and I don’t want to see government forcing people to wear a mask."

"We’re vaccinated but choose to wear the masks, too," said Lisa Shryock, who’s also visiting from Kansas City.

Organizers with the Minnesota State Fair decided not to put any mask or vaccine restrictions in place, but there are signs around strongly encouraging people to wear them indoors.

"Everybody has their own choice," Peterson said.

"I feel very safe," Jeremiah Morgan, from Plymouth, added.

While the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t required for the fair, there is a clinic offering the shots at the North End Event Center.

"I actually decided today, I was very reluctant to get it but I went ahead and got it," Morgan said.

If you’re one of the first 3,600 people to get the shot, you’ll walk out with a $100 gift card.

"I got $100 so, yay, free money, so everybody I recommend you come get the shot because they’re giving away money," Morgan said.

Morgan said he plans to use some of the money to buy turkey legs and funnel cakes.

"God, I’m going to get so fat today," Morgan said.

The pandemic did delay first-time appearances at the fair.

"Little overwhelming already," said Scott Graden, with Scenic 61, out of Duluth.

Graden says they were approved to make their fair debut last year but had to be patient after it was canceled.

"It’s almost like you get this gift and then someone took it away so it’s really great that it’s here," Graden said.

For those headed to the State Fair, there are metal detectors at the gates, which is new this year, so any potential lines could lead to a longer wait to get inside.

After a difficult year that put a whole lot on pause, folks say it sure does feel good to be back.

"I feel like a kid, I do, I’m so excited," Kincade said.