Foundation to help pay for S.D. State Fair plan

Capitol News Bureau
KELO South Dakota State Fair 2018

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources wants a master plan developed for the State Fair complex in Huron.

And the foundation board that helps raise money for the fairgrounds is willing to help fund it.

The group, a mix of dedicated citizens and State Fair Commission members, has committed to donating as much as $20,000 from the foundation to cover up to half of the master plan’s cost.

However, the fair’s manager, Peggy Besch, told the foundation board Tuesday that the plan’s price could be higher than some had expected.

She said the department still looks willing to match the foundation’s $20,000 and find a way to pay whatever the additional amount winds up.

The master plan is due no later than October, according to Besch, and would be part of discussions about the fair’s direction.

She said the plan will look at such things as current uses of buildings and their sizes, current and future camping space, and the possibilities of new buildings as well as renovations and demolitions.

The state secretary of agriculture and natural resources, Hunter Roberts, confirmed Tuesday that the department would pay the additional cost for the master plan. He said the state engineer has issued a request for statements of interest in assembling the plan. The May 11 letter says state government is prepared to pay up to $100,000 total price.

The foundation has a fundraising team that’s been busy raising money for a $20 million indoor rodeo and livestock complex that will replace the State Fair beef complex that burned down last fall.

The project is tabbed “The DEX,” short for Dakota Events CompleX.

The Legislature committed $12 million from state government’s general fund to the project at the request of Governor Kristi Noem, with an insurance settlement and private donations for the rest.

A formal groundbreaking is being planned for some time during the State Fair’s official September 2-6 dates this year, possibly on that Thursday.

Thursdays have been when South Dakota’s governors traditionally visit for the annual ceremony honoring veterans.

Besch said Tuesday the architecture and construction teams are finishing the project’s schematic design and the next step will be choosing the appearance.

“It’s moving along,” she said.

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