When the State Fair Was Last Cancelled by a Virus

Lynn Imbier

It is the summer season of 1946 and The us is all set to party. Planet War II is around and our GIs are again property. But as our Greatest Era merrily starts into making one of our greatest generations, a virus starts rearing its unattractive head. And even though polio, which mostly brought on infant paralysis, was not COVID-19, it unfolded in an eerily related way. 

In accordance to a 1996 Pioneer Push tale commemorating the 50th anniversary of that joyful summer season that was not, “In those times, newspapers included polio like they included sports, with a day-to-day tally on the selection of cases verified.” Sound common? So is the truth that, as the infection fee opened up, society shut down. “Swimming pools and beach locations were being shut, lower attendance at movie theaters threatened the movie sector,” the Pi Push tale continued.

In early April of this yr, as COVID-19 surged, the Winona Everyday Information mined its 1946 archives to see how the state’s previous significant viral surge unfolded. 

“While it is not instructed that the routines in which youngsters are generally engaged in the summer season are at existing to be discontinued, retain youngsters away from the films, parties, beach locations and swimming pools as substantially as achievable,” a Winona town well being officer instructed the paper on July eighteen, 1946. 

Matters were being gloomier by August 3rd. The paper observed that Minneapolis’s well being commissioner instructed everyone beneath the age of 15 be barred from community areas ranging from amusement parks to churches. Only 4 times later on and the Winona Everyday Information (then the Winona Republican Herald) printed an AP tale declaring that polio experienced turn into an “epidemic in scattered areas” all through the place. By the 12th, it was declared that children’s gatherings and 4-H routines would be cancelled at the State Honest. 

“Since one of the cornerstones of our 4-H function is the marketing of well being,” a agent claimed in the tale, “we would be untrue to our intent if we risked the lifetime of any Minnesota boy or girl via a statewide assembly during the existing disaster.”

August 14th brought the grimmest news yet. “The Minnesota State Honest was requested canceled by Dr. A.J. Chesley, secretary of the state division of well being,” read through the morning version. Ouch!

See, 2020? Matters could be even worse. Rather of owning months to appear to grips with the truth that we wouldn’t be ending this summer season putting on elastic-waisted shorts and a fanny pack complete of Tums, we could have observed out right after we’d already purchased the Tums. 

Drew Wood

Our deputy editor and generalist extraordinaire has been around the block with stints at Thrillist, Metro, and Minnesota Business to name a number of. He life in Tangletown with his wife and youngsters, and would practically often instead be putting on a baseball cap.

Read additional by Drew Wood

August 27, 2020

12:00 AM

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