Wisconsin State Fair announces new hours of operation, cashless system for 2021

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
File photo of Wisconsin State fairgoers.

The 2021 Wisconsin State Fair will be offering limited hours of operation, a cashless entry and parking system and other new updates in light of COVID-19 precautions.

The new fair hours will be 11 am to 11 pm, with the fairgrounds closing at 10 pm on the final Sunday, Aug. 15. A press release said the limited hours are due to extra health protocols and modifications made to the fair this year. The fairgrounds parking lots will open at 10:30 am, plus any previously-scheduled agriculture exhibits taking place before 11 am will continue as usual.

Parking passes and admission tickets will also go cashless this year in the interest of health and safety. State fair staff say they encourage fairgoers to buy their tickets online before getting to the fairgrounds so lines and contact with others is reduced. You can buy tickets online with a credit card, or you can pay with cash or a credit card if you go to the Wisconsin State Fair ticket booths ahead of time.

“Our mission as we plan for the 170th Wisconsin State Fair is to maintain our beloved traditions and commitment to affordability while keeping health and safety top of mind,” said Kathleen O’Leary, Wisconsin State Fair Park CEO. “While there are some changes this year, our staff is working hard to bring you the State Fair you have known and loved for generations.” 

Masks will not be required, nor will there be capacity limits, since the fairgrounds sit on 200 acres. Staff are encouraging individuals to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Refillable souvenir cups will not be sold this year and last year's cups will not be refilled. Eating contests are also canceled this year, though the press release promised to bring those and other programs back next year.

"As a GBAC STAR™ accredited facility, the public can feel confident entering buildings with the knowledge that staff assess the risks of communicable diseases and mitigate those risks by way of increased cleaning and disinfection practices," the release said. "Along with the robust cleaning protocols, hundreds of hand sanitizing stations have been added throughout the Fair Park."