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State Fairgrounds begins construction on Dakota Events Complex

Construction has begun on a new building at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds that will replace nearly 50 years of history.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 7:54 PM CDT
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HURON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Construction has begun on a new building at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds that will replace nearly 50 years of history.

Generations of South Dakotans have visited the State Fairgrounds Beef Complex, that is until it was destroyed in a fire in 2020.

Barrel racers at the fairgrounds were the first to spot the fire on the night before Halloween. It was later determined that a faulty wire of a refrigerator in the concession area was the cause. That faulty wire lost the fairgrounds its most valuable asset.

”It was a very important facility for the fairgrounds. In fact, it was the most-used facility on our campus, used over 200 days a year. It was our bread and butter, so it hit us pretty hard,” said Peggy Besch, the South Dakota State Fairgrounds Manager.

From the ashes rose a brand new plan for a facility. The Dakota Events Complex, otherwise known as the DEX, is a $24 million project that will be the replacement for the building that was home to cattle showing at the state fair.

”The DEX is a 150,000 square-foot, multi-use facility. It will be used from a livestock barn, during the fair it will be a cattle barn for open-class beef and 4H beef,” said Besch.

The new complex will also be heated, which means more opportunities for year-round events.

”Non-fair time it can be used for equestrian events, rodeos, and trade shows. There’s just a variety of opportunities for us to use that facility,” said Besch.

The facility received $12 million in funding from the state legislature, and the fundraising committee has gathered an additional $6 million so far. Fundraising efforts are still being continued.

In the process, the Open Class Sheep Barn adjacent to the old Beef Complex was also torn down to make way for the DEX. A special task force has been created to determine the new location of sheep showing at the state fairgrounds.

While the State Fair Board is excited to bring in the new, they’re continuing to honor the old.

“So, we weren’t able to salvage much from the beef complex. That was completely destroyed. The sheep barn we actually had the opportunity to keep some of the wood, and we’re going to be incorporating some of that into what we cal the pre-function area of the DEX,” said Besch.

The DEX will not be open in time for the 2022 South Dakota State Fair, so open-class cattle and 4H showings are scheduled for previous dates before the state fair.

The scheduled opening date for the Dakota Events Complex is June of 2023.

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