SD State Fair will start a day earlier

By Makenzie Huber

South Dakota Searchlight

Posted 4/17/24

Additional day needed to fit all exhibits into fair week

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SD State Fair will start a day earlier


HURON — The South Dakota State Fair will start a day earlier this year, increasing weeklong admission prices because of the additional day.

The fair, held in Huron at the end of August each year, will start on the Wednesday before Labor Day and end on Labor Day. The “necessary and beneficial” extra day will allow for expanded programming and more flexible scheduling, South Dakota State Fairgrounds Manager Peggy Besch told legislators at Monday’s Rules Review Committee meeting at the Capitol in Pierre.
Scheduling within a five-day week has become a “significant challenge,” Besch added.

“Open Class, 4-H and FFA exhibits, which are the backbone of our agricultural heritage, often find themselves squeezed into tight timeslots stretching from early morning well into evening,” Besch said. “This leaves little room for families to immerse themselves in the diverse array of experiences that the state fair has to offer.”

With the approval of the committee, weeklong admission to the fair for adults increased from $40 to $50, and weeklong admission for children between 6 and 15 years old increased from $20 to $25. Prepaid family value packs, which include four adult passes, increased from $130 to $160. Camper packages also increased by $30 for each package. The daily admission rate will not increase.

Besch said a one-day addition was “strongly endorsed” at a meeting during the 2023 state fair.

“The proposal to shift the official start day of the fair to Wednesday is not merely a logistical adjustment, but a strategic move to enhance the vitality and inclusivity of this cherished tradition,” Besch said.

There were no opponents to the additional day or the increase in admission costs.

A 2023 increase in daily admission costs was meant to support the increasing cost of running the fair, which sits on 190 acres and has more than 100 buildings. The committee rejected a proposed rule in 2022 to increase admission and camping fees, which were meant to offset rising costs.

Attendance at last year’s state fair was 178,246.