SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota State Fair has generated more than $2 million in tax revenue since 2013.
Revenue has been well over $100,00 since 2013 except for the COVID-19 year of 2020 when $107,926 was generated, according to data from the state fair organization and South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR).
The fair generated $244,525 in tax revenue in 2022. The DANR provided requested attendance and related data from 2015 through 2023. Archived news releases also include attendance from 2013 and 2014 but do not include gross revenue from 2013 or gross revenue or include tax revenue from 2014.
The state fair of 2014 was a watershed year for gate attendance, according to DANR information. The state’s goal was to surpass 200,000 in attendance. The fair reached a record-setting attendance of 210,465 which was a 15% increase from the third highest attendance of 183,005 in 2013.
The fair of 2014 was pivotal as attendance did not dip below 200,000 until the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic year when attendance dropped to 107,992. Attendance rebounded in 2021 at 181,459 and 2022, at 192,279, but dipped again in 2023 during the extreme heat in September.
The 2023 attendance was 178,246.
Heat during the first three days of the fair was blamed in part for the 183,005 attendance in 2013. Officials said that attendance was down 5% from the 2012 record.
The more than $2 million in tax revenue comes from fairgoers buying goods, beverages, specialty concessions, and carnival rides.
This year, gross sales as calculated by the state Department of Revenue totaled about $2.6 million. If the gross sales are divided by the 178,246 attendees, each attendee spent about $15 a piece ($14.8).
Discounts were offered for carnival rides during the fair. For example, a one-day pass was $30 while an all-fair day pass was $60, according to the South Dakota State Fair website. Fairgoers could also buy passes in advance.
The South Dakota State Fair doesn’t offer a value-priced food list online, but a list from the Iowa State Fair can offer some insight on prices for food.
Items for $5 at the Iowa State Fair in Ames included a bacon wrapped riblet and bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. Cheese fries could be found for $4 while a deep fried Twinkie was available for $6.
Pork tenderloins, nachos, deep fried Oreos and other food were listed on the vendor menu for this year’s South Dakota State Fair.
Take a look at the heat fairgoers were experiencing this year. The South Dakota State Fair said the weekend heat in Huron broke some records.
From Saturday, Sept. 2 through Monday, Sept. 4, temperatures were above 100 degrees each day. Sunday’s 103 temperature in Huron broke the record from 1893. Monday’s 102 temperature broke a record from 1913.
The state fairgrounds is also a campsite each year. The number of campers has never topped 2,000 from 2015 through 2023 but it’s been close.
The campground had 1,986 campers this year and 1,984 in 2018. There were almost 1,700 campers in 2013.