This year's Uptown Art Fair has been canceled, organizers said Tuesday, citing concern for safety amid unrest and violence in the neighborhood.

It was a last-minute change for the Minneapolis fair, which was set to take place Aug. 7-8.

Jill Osiecki, Uptown Association executive director, cited "additional devastation" in the area, including the killing of Winston Smith Jr. on June 3 on Lake Street and the subsequent protests that have rocked the area.

Smith was fatally shot by undercover deputies. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension maintains Smith shot at law enforcement.

A woman, who was with Smith at the time, says he didn't have a gun and was reaching for his phone.

During the protests for police transparency and accountability, 31-year-old Deona M. Knaj­dek was killed when she was struck by a vehicle driven by a speeding and unlicensed driver on Lake Street.

Part of the reason the fair was canceled, Osiecki said, was that "things had continued to escalate, with instigators blocking streets, setting dumpsters on fire and drag racing."

"Bringing in 300,000 people at this time is not something that we can feel comfortable with, for safety reasons and for our artists," she said.

"We tried really hard to make other arrangements and moving the location maybe a mile and a half away, and we just were not able to move forward with all of the approvals that we need to have."

Many businesses have struggled in the Uptown area since the start of the pandemic and with the unrest prompted by Smith's killing.

Recently, Juut Salon Spa, a fixture on the corner of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, announced it would be pulling out of Uptown, citing social unrest, crime, street closures and other stores closing.

The Uptown Art Fair was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions. When limits on gatherings were lifted this spring, organizers announced that the Art Fair — one of the largest in the state — would take place.

Now, Osiecki and others are scrambling to see if it might be possible to stage an arts-related event or exhibition in the fall.

"I'm feeling terrible about the artists and the businesses in Uptown," she said. "With the artists, they're a small business and we were excited about this year."

This was supposed to be Uptown Art Fair's 57th year, with about 300 artists participating alongside multicultural demonstrations and performances, including Thai dancers and the organization Sprayfinger, which teaches youngsters street art.

"It's just the loss of an opportunity to build awareness of Sprayfinger and the arts education and summer camps we have to offer, as well as giving people a hands-on opportunity," said Staci Horwitz, who works in program administration for Sprayfinger.

The cancellation also is a blow to artists.

"For us artists, when you lose something as big as Uptown Art Fair, there is not an easy way to bounce back from that," said photographer Nicole Houff.

She anticipates that 25% of her art fair income comes from the Uptown Art Fair.

But Houff is also mourning the loss of tradition.

"As a lifelong Minneapolis resident who has called Uptown my home for 20 years, it's heartbreaking. It's really sad not to have it," she said. 612-673-4437 612-673-4759