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Future of the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds up in the air

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 5:39 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When you drive by the fairgrounds, it’s hard to miss the giant hole in the ground nearby.

That’s owned by Concrete Materials, who has long been speculated to have interest in acquiring the fairgrounds.

“If the fairgrounds stay where they are we will continue to be good neighbors, as we have been for several decades, and if they move to a new location we certainly would be interested in the land and would welcome a discussion on it,” Concrete Materials Spokesperson Tony Spilde said.

Buying that property would give them room to expand and grow.

“When we’re talking about planning for our business, that’s 20, 30, 40, 50 years down the road, and so this could potentially be a good source of material for the coming decades,” Spilde said.

Tuesday, the Minnehaha County Commission will lay out further details on a task force that will be key in determining the future of the fairgrounds.

“We really need an organized plan on what is the goal and what the fairgrounds should be,” Minnehaha County Commissioner Dean Karsky said.

So far, the Commission hasn’t said they plan to sell the property... but they’re keeping their options open.

“I’m not going to try and guide it to a direction I think it should be,” Karsky said. “I think they really need to go out, as a task force, and all cards are on the table, let’s see what it should be.”

President and CEO of the Sioux Empire Fair and Fairgrounds Scott Wick says the fairgrounds account for more than 30 million dollars of economic impact each year.

“It’s an asset to the Sioux Empire, Sioux Falls, and the surrounding communities,” Wick said. “We’re not just a fair, the fair is the largest event, but we have over 120-130 events a year.”

The Minnehaha County 4-H relies heavily on the grounds for its events.

In fact, if the fairgrounds were to be sold it could create a nightmare scenario for local 4-Hers.

“For us that’d be huge, to try and figure out what we’d have to do,” Minnehaha County 4-H Program Adviser Charles Martinell said. “I mean, that’d just be a painful, long process, and it might be a couple, two, three years of us just bouncing place to place, which could affect the numbers in the program.”

The County Commission is encouraging the public to voice their opinion about the future of the fairgrounds. It has vowed to make this process open and transparent.

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