South Dakota fairs preparing for 2020 events during pandemic

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 5:48 PM CDT
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Fair season is just a few months away.

The South Dakota State Fair along with the Sioux Empire Fair still plan on opening their gates this fall.

The Sioux Empire Fair is used to welcoming around 300,000 visitors throughout its duration; however, this year’s visitors should be expecting change.

The 81st annual Sioux Empire Fair is set to bring thousands to the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds July 31st - August 8th.

However, this year things will be different.

Courtney Drenth with the Sioux Empire Fair said, “We are making sure to take extra precautions for the fair. We’ve ordered extra handwashing stations; extra hand sanitizer and we’re working with city and county leaders to make sure that we can provide to the best fair to our patrons.”

Drenth says they’ve had conversations with fairs worldwide to make theirs as safe as possible.

“We’re talking about how we can all work together to help one another out. What extra precautions are being done? How people are being creative with their fair? Some of them have gone virtual,” Drenth added.

As of Friday, the South Dakota State Fair in Huron is still planning to go ahead with the event saying that this year “will look a lot different than previous years,” and they “are implementing measures so guests, participants, and the community can take the precautions necessary to stay healthy.”

Dakota Snow has been a vendor at the Sioux Empire Fair for a handful of years and says they are preparing to go with the flow.

Dakota Snow owner Jessica Rooney, “Honestly at this point, we are just going in with no expectations. We are going to set up as we’ve always set up and been ready for the crowd, whether there’s a crowd or not a crowd, we are going to be there and be ready.”

Dakota Snow says their station will have COVID precautions too.

At the end of the day, Drenth says she hopes this year’s event can give people something to look forward to.

“I think it’s really important for people to get together, a lot of people have missed out on things like graduations and weddings, and our life was kind of disrupted. We want to bring everyone together and have something to celebrate,” said Drenth.

Drenth does mention that right now they are working on extra precautions for their concerts in the grandstand and they will continue to work over the next couple months to make sure the fair is safe.