Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm canceled the fair, saying debt-ridden Michigan could no longer afford to subsidize it. Granholm's decision makes Michigan the only Midwestern state and one of few nationwide without a state fair.
The Michigan State Fair had been a state tradition for 160 years and held at Eight Mile and Woodward, within Detroit city limits, since 1905. But the fair had been running deficits and needed $360,000 from the state in 2008 to cover losses. Fewer than 220,000 people passed through last year. At its peak in 1966, the fair drew 1 million.
One thing that hurt the Michigan fair was the state's economy. Michigan's unemployment rate of 15.2 percent led the nation in August 2009 when the last fair was held. Detroit's jobless rate is about 30 percent.
But part of the problem also seems to have been the fair's inability to successfully marry its agrarian roots with money-making entertainment as other state fairs have done.
Not to be a homer, but the Minnesota State Fair is doing it right:
"We don't have any government support here, and that is critical to our success," he said.
The Minnesota State Agricultural Society controls the fairgrounds in Minneapolis [St. Paul, actually], approves the $36 million budget, sets rates and raises money for the event. Last year, the fair drew 1.79 million people and made $1.5 million in profit.