ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Officials announced Thursday that the 2020 New Mexico State is canceled due to concerns of COVID-19. They say the decision to cancel this year’s event comes in accordance with the state health guidelines.

“While we are heartbroken that there will be no New Mexico State Fair in 2020, we are committed to putting the safety and well being of our staff, vendors and community above all else,” said Dan Mourning, General Manager of New Mexico State Fair.

The 11-day event had been scheduled for Sept. 10 to 20 in Albuquerque at Expo New Mexico. People in the community are sad to hear the news, but not totally surprised. “The snowcones, the food, the rodeo, the races…the whole package, we’ll miss it,” Lucy Paffett, a fair-goer said.

“We’re disappointed of course but it’s understandable considering, you know, no large crowds, don’t want to spread the virus,” Kathy Vargas, another fair-goer said.

“Even if it was open, everyone would be there with their masks on not being able to enjoy the fair, it’s just the current times and what we got to live in,” Andrew Germain, who’s gone to the fair a few times said. “We don’t really have a lot of big things for New Mexico. So, the state fair is one of the things that gets Albuquerque back and pumped and gets all of us back together…so we’re kind of missing out on that community aspect.”

The event typically brings in about 500,000 people, which is why fair officials said there’s no way to put on the massive event the way people know it, safely. The uncertainty of the virus and when the state ban on mass gatherings will be lifted are behind the decision.

“We have contractors and different partners for the fair. They have to have time for the fair. This is not something that you can just turn off and on like a light switch. So, we had to do the right thing and make the announcement now,” Mourning said.

Mourning also recognized the economic impact the cancellation will have, estimating the fair brings in about $70 million to the state each year. “There’s a lot of good economic impact that the fair brings. it’s just, it’s very sad what’s going on, but we have to stay safe,” he said.

Fair officials are still working on ways to bring some fair fun this year. They are discussing options like virtual events, special fair food events, and even drive-thru exhibitions. Tickets bought for the 2020 fair can be used for the 2021 fair, which Mourning is promising will be ‘bigger and better.’