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Unable to resolve a long-running dispute with Ramsey County leadership, operators of the Ramsey County Fair have called off this year's event but say they will explore other options for its possible return in future years.

The Agricultural Society of Ramsey County said it cannot operate a fair under the "impossible demands" of Ramsey County commissioners, and said it may have to move from Maplewood to another location or merge with another county fair to keep the 110-year-old event alive.

"It is very clear they do not want a County Fair," the society's board of directors wrote in a news release posted on its website last weekend. "We are considering our options."

The Ramsey County Fair was last held in 2019. At that time, the county informed the Agricultural Society it would no longer be able to use the second floor of a large brick barn for exhibits. The county cited concerns about structural deficiencies of the access ramp and the building's lack of fire protection, according to a news release posted on the county website Monday.

The county in 2019 also raised concerns about insurance limits for the fair's vendors and contractors and noted that would need to be addressed.

The fair, which moved from White Bear Lake in 1953 to its current home near Aldrich Arena on White Bear Avenue in Maplewood, was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

While the fair was on hiatus, Ramsey County reviewed the services it provides for events and found the fair was getting benefits that other events were not. Those benefits included staff time to help with setup and teardown, recycling and trash and utilities that in 2023 would cost an estimated $25,000, the county said.

The county began drafting a policy to govern how it supported external events and required the Agricultural Society Board to follow the same practices as other organizations that partner with the county, including carrying necessary insurance and paying costs associated with producing the event.

"These requirements would bring the Agricultural Board into an arrangement that is consistent with other organizations partnering with Ramsey County while ensuring Ramsey County taxpayers are not being burdened with the costs associated with event production," the county said.

The county and the Agricultural Society have been in discussions for the past three years. While county officials say they are open to future partnerships, Agricultural Society officials say the county's demands are too steep.

"We have always been a great, free family fair managed totally by volunteers," the Agricultural Society Board wrote. "We cannot operate a fair under the conditions and demands from Ramsey County Commissioners."