SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One major industry the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted is tourism. Fairs and carnivals aren’t usually taken into consideration for generating revenue, but they play a big role.
This year, the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls made adjustments so they could still open and operate during the pandemic. Courtney Hokanson is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the fair, and she says opening during the pandemic was well worth it.
“Overall for us, it was a good decision to have the fair and have the opportunity to bring entertainment to Sioux Falls. We partnered with a lot of other South Dakota fairs for this, this year to just to work through things and see how it would look. And, it was a really good time,” Hokanson said.
Hokanson also said the fair saw a few changes, but maintained its lively spirit. Staff took into account CDC recommendations and social distancing as well as sanitation stations were throughout the fair.
“We had a couple less rides just for spacing purposes throughout the grounds. And then for vendors we also had a couple less vendors, again, we just use the opportunity to space them out a little bit,” Hokanson said.
Hokanson continued on by saying the pandemic did impact the number of people who attended the fair. Attendance was down 31% compared to last year. Hokanson went on to say because of COVID-19, the grandstand didn’t have entertainment for two nights at the Sioux Empire Fair as well.
However, the shows that did come, proved to be a major hit.
“Our revenue, overall, was higher Monday and Wednesday than they’ve been the past couple years, so we had a great grandstand lineup and program lineup those days,” Hokanson said.
As far as the fair next year, Hokanson said a lot is still unknown, but the staff continues to plan while considering that COVID-19 may still attribute to what they can do.
“A lot of this planning has constantly been working with all the different entertainers and vendors and people involved with the fair on what things will look like and what they’re comfortable with and things like that. It’s kind of interesting planning, it adds a couple extra elements, but we work together just because we want everyone to feel comfortable with what they’re doing,” Hokanson said.
The 82nd Annual Sioux Empire Fair will start August 5, 2021.