While the Wisconsin State Fair plans a summer return, many other festivals remain sidelined
Is their decision to go on with the show leading festivals that already canceled to reconsider?
Festa Italiana, German Fest, Polish Fest and Pride Fest made the decision months ago to cancel 2021 festivities. These were all supposed to take place much earlier in the summer than State Fair, and that had a lot to do with it.
The Summerfest grounds, on what would've been Polish Fest, the weekend of June 11, will be quiet.
“But definitely, in the fall, would’ve been right up there,” said Jeff Kuderski, executive director of Polish Heritage Alliance.
Despite the announcement that State Fair will open, Kuderski says Polish Fest's cancelation won't change.
“Nobody traveling outside the states, so even our bands would not be able to arrive. So again, it’s one of those things that people just -- too soon. Hopefully things in July will open better for us too, as well," he said.
Public health officials say the more time goes by, the anticipated outcome gets better.
“I think the size of the gatherings is probably the number one thing there, where as more people get vaccinated, hopefully have less Covid in the community, it makes it easier to have a higher percentage of vaccinated people, more protection for folks and have larger gatherings at that point,” said Dr. Matt Anderson, senior medical director of primary care at UW Health.
In Chicago, they're considering a vaccine passport for large summer events, but no one's saying whether Milwaukee would use something similar.
“As we get more people vaccinated, I think it’s gonna benefit the entire community, so the best way to not have to worry about vaccine passports is to have high rate of vaccination and low rates of community spread,” Dr. Anderson said.
State Fair is considering how to keep visitors healthy, but stopped short of saying if a vaccine passport is among the options.
“We have 99 days and we live it day-by-day right now. Things are changing and evolving on a literal day-by-day basis,” said Kathleen O'Leary, Wisconsin State Fair Park CEO.
Public health experts expect limitations on the size of the crowd will increase as summer goes on, but say it's space, more so than size of the crowd, that keeps people safe.
State Fair Park has 200 acres.