Another year is in the books at the South Dakota State Fair. As the afternoon sun peeked out Labor Day, feet hit the fairgrounds’ pavement for one final chance at fair food.
That included cotton candy at Thomsen's booth. For 20 years now he's made a stop in Huron as part of his Midwest fair food tour.
“There have been some lean years. Last year, North Dakota State Fair was flooded out. It's the loyalty of the customers that enjoy the state fair; they're just good people,” Thomsen said.
And this year Thomsen thinks there were more people here. Fair regulars such as Angi and Ryan Kappenman agree.
“The attendance was big, as big as last year,” Kappenman said.
“The success of the fair is, I think, is judged more on people who are participating in all the livestock programs,” South Dakota State Fair Manager Jerome Hertel said.
Hertel says animal numbers are up. So are vendors, even long-term guests. More than 1,700 campers filled the grounds this year. That doesn't include those on private property surrounding the grounds. Vendor numbers will also top last year's total of 400; there were plenty of people to sell to.
“They were very tolerant of the heat. It cooled off during the evenings and the numbers are going to look pretty good for the State Fair,” said Hertel.
Fair officials do not have final attendance numbers yet and will not speculate whether this year’s crowds will top 200,000 people. But as the screams go silent once more, the clean-up here begins as the fair forges ahead to next year.