The State Fair is back on this year after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 and increasing case counts have put a damper on the Great Minnesota Get-Back Together. If you're planning to attend, here's what you need to know.

When is the State Fair?

The State Fair starts Thursday, Aug. 26, and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 6, for a total of 12 days. The hours of the buildings and barns throughout the fairgrounds can be viewed here.

What is the State Fair policy on masks and vaccinations?

The State Fair is urging attendees to wear masks regardless of vaccination status — especially indoors. They are also recommending that everyone get fully vaccinated before attending.

However, there are no mandates for masks or vaccinations, which has prompted some vendors and a musical act to pull out of the fair. WCCO also announced they would not be broadcasting live from the fair due to a lack of mandates.

Masks will be required on buses to and from the fair and at first-aid stations. They also will be required for unvaccinated individuals on fair trolleys. They are recommended in crowded outdoor locations for anyone older than 2 who is medically able to wear them.

Federal health officials recently expanded their masking recommendations beyond public indoor spaces to include crowded outdoor settings in areas where COVID-19 transmission levels are high.

How can I mitigate my risk if I attend the State Fair?

If you are planning to attend the fair, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated.

Wearing a mask, regardless of vaccination status, can also help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you attend the fair and forget a mask, you can get one at the entrance gate, building entrances or information booths.

You should also consider weekdays when attendance is lower to reduce close contacts, said Jerry Hammer, the fair's general manager. To help with this, the fair is debuting an online Gopher Gauge that people can check for crowd levels. The Star Tribune also has a FairCam you can use to watch a live video feed from the Fair.

The grounds are big — spread out when possible and try to maintain some social distancing between yourself and others. Wash hands frequently at the stations around the fair. Hand sanitizer will also be available throughout the grounds, especially around the information booths.

What is the Star Tribune coverage going to look like?

The Star Tribune will be sending reporters and photographers to the State Fair to cover this moment in Minnesota history. As the largest newspaper in the state, we have covered all aspects of the pandemic and will continue to do so at the fair, as well as reporting on other lifestyle, entertainment and news stories.

We will not be doing live social media updates throughout the fair. This decision allows our reporters and photographers to spend less time in the crowds and focus instead on gathering the information they need and getting out more quickly. We will still share the coverage provided by reporters and photographers on social media.

Reporters and photographers attending the fair will be masked whenever possible.

What about the Star Tribune's booth and stage at the fair?

The Star Tribune booth, run by the company's marketing staff, is open for business at the State Fair this year, but we are taking precautions in accordance with all CDC guidelines. Our State Fair staff will be masked, we are following guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing, and we are making modifications to our building to improve ventilation and airflow.

We are scaling back programming on the Star Tribune Stage somewhat but will present a lineup of popular local newsmakers and personalities. Otherwise, we are preparing for safe interaction with the many subscribers, readers and fans who visit us every year.