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No More State Fair Cups? Fair Runs Into Supply Shortages And Cost Increases

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- If you visit the Minnesota State Fair and order a small beer or soda, there's a good chance it won't have "Minnesota State Fair" on it.  Five days in and the fair already ran out.

"Everything is in short supply," said Stephanie Shimp, co-owner of Blue Barn in the West End.

According to a fair spokesperson, a combination of shipping delays and supply chain problems caused them to run out of plastic cups with logos on them. Also a factor: the fair ordered the cups late because of uncertainty over whether there would be a State Fair in 2021.

Short supply has led to price increases in things like packaging, paper goods, chicken, beef and labor costs have increased since 2019, when vendors were paying employees closer to $10 or $11 an hour. Now $15 an hour is a common wage.

Fresh French Fries hadn't raised prices in four years, but the regular and large fries are both 50 cents more than they were in 2019. Giggles raised most prices 25 cents.

Many vendors are burying their price increases in credit card swipe fees, charging 3 to 3.5% per transaction. That does cover the increased cost of accepting plastic, but it also leaves a bit left over to help defray other costs.

Blue Barn has struggled to source pierogis this year, as their typical vendor had trouble getting supplies through customs in Canada. Fresh French Fries said they're in danger of running out of Heinz ketchup.

"It's a weird year," said Shimp, "but it's 100% better than last year, and that's what I keep telling myself. It's 100% better than last year."

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