Wisconsin State Fair returns, COVID persists year after cancellation

A busy first day at the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair came to a close Thursday night, Aug. 5.

As health officials continue to warn about a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant, families found ways to have fun – and be safe.

The rides were just one of many things drawing people out Thursday. Antonio Valero was a 10-year-old on a mission.

"I like getting the really big prizes," Valero said.

But be careful what you wish for: Carrying around a dog bigger than yourself is a challenge, but just a part of the day at the fair.

"Pretty heavy and pretty hot," said 10-year-old Miles Schleicher. "It’s really fun here, and there’s so much good stuff. It's really fun."

Miles Schleicher wins a prize at the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair.

Families made decisions to their comfort level this year after the 2020 event was canceled out of concerns related to the pandemic. Milwaukee County is considered at a high rate of COVID-19 transmission, and some chose to mask up – unwilling to miss another year.

"We love it no matter what so, we’ll take the risk with the mask," said Cathy Plennes.

Antonio Valero plays a game at the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair.

"I don’t want to miss out on things, and it’s just what it is," Samantha Ritchie said.

Each family took home memories, and the lucky ones took home a few stuffed animal friends as well.

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"I think it’s great. It’s still a little bit scary thinking about everything," said Nate Schleicher. "We’re having fun. We’re being responsible. We’re keeping our safe social distance, so we’re doing it responsibly."

The Wisconsin State Fair recommends masks in indoor spaces, but they are not required.

Wisconsin State Fair opens, runs through Aug. 15: What to know

The Wisconsin State Fair kicked off Thursday, Aug. 5. The return features 70 new foods and more than 100 musical acts – and new COVID-19 precautions.

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