SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Empire Fair is set to make its return to Sioux Falls.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors will make their way to the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds over the next nine days. But, for the people involved, the fun and excitement of the fair is a year-round job.

The countdown is on to the Sioux Empire Fair.

“There’s a lot of moving parts from the entertainment side of things to the carnival coming in, the layout of the lot,” W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds President & CEO Scott Wick said.

The pieces of the puzzle have been falling into place over the past few days, and the lay of the land will look different in 2022.

W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds President Scott Wick says you may notice a lack of shade as more than 40 Ash trees were removed last fall due to the emerald ash borer.

“We’re really missing the shade. However, we did partner with some folks and we purchased some equipment to have shade in the front porch area, kids fun zone. With the absence of the trees, we can actually probably have a better layout and expand on the carnival a little bit,” Wick said.

Another change will allow fairgoers to stay cool while taking in the sights. A variety of exhibits will now be located inside the air-conditioned portion of the Expo Building.

“We’ll have our commercial exhibitors, and we’re up about 15 booths over last year, which is good. There will be 4-H static displays and then there will be the fine arts displays and contests,” Wick said.

Another new feature is the fair’s online ticketing system, including general admission and paid shows, beginning with Old Dominion Friday night.

“It’s going to be a big show. I encourage people to purchase them in advance and then come on out to the fair early to get in because everybody waits until the last minute and it’s really tough for people to get into the fair,” Wick said.

The Old Dominion show was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and in ’21 because of severe weather.

“Things appear to be moving one way, trending, looks like you’re going to be ok and then bam, you’re not,” Wick said.

“The band wanted to play and unfortunately it just wasn’t safe so at some point you have to make a call and try and keep fans and people that are out there safe and responsible, but everyone was pretty bummed,” Pepper Entertainment President Jered Johnson said.

Jered Johnson is President of Pepper Entertainment. He says a third attempt at welcoming Old Dominion to Sioux Falls was made possible by the band’s upcoming concert in Minneapolis.

“They’ve been winning just about every award, ACM, CMA, so it will be cool to have them back and we’re just lucky enough they’re out on the Kenny Chesney tour this summer so I literally booked that show during the fair last year,” Johnson said.

“By the time you see who’s trending, who’s available, sometimes people are available and you put an offer in but they get picked up by another tour, then they’re not available, so then you go back to who might have been second on your ask and they have to hit the right price point for us since we do offer the free grandstand entertainment with paid fair admission,” Wick said.

Admission also gives you access to another staple of the fair — 4-H exhibits and animal shows.

The Wollman farm, west of Sioux Falls, features birds of all shapes and sizes.

“Our chickens, a couple years ago, we got them from a really good show breeder and then we’ve just been raising ours and as they’ve been going they just keep getting better and better,” 13-year-old Nevaeh Wollman said.

Nevaeh has been in 4-H for six years. She’s showing a black cochin bantam chicken at the Sioux Empire Fair.

“We take away their food and water right before they get judged because when they drink their water it gets all down their feathers and then they end up getting really dirty right before they’re getting judged,” Nevaeh Wollman said.

“Between now and competition time we’ll spend a lot of time washing our chickens and make sure all their feathers are ready to go and finish up the last of our static exhibits and getting all the tags on them so they’re ready for judging on Friday,” Stephanie Wollman said.

Stephanie Wollman says the family doesn’t name its chickens, but since the birds are required to be banded… meet Red-145.

“She’s very docile, she meets pretty much everything the Standard of Perfection has. The only thing she needs is one more point in her comb and she’d be pretty much perfect,” Stephanie Wollman said.

The Standard of Perfection is set by the American Poultry Association.

“They have a couple hundred page book that just details out what every type and breed of bird should look like, how their feathers should be, the color of their comb, their waddle, the number of toes, the number of points, and then based on that is how they judge your bird,” Stephanie Wollman said.

Whatever the outcome, the Wollman family plans to enjoy the Sioux Empire Fair.

“The kids will spend almost an entire week out there hanging out, not just in the poultry barn but they’ll hang out with their friends that also show dairy cattle and beef cattle and goats and sheep and pigs and they enjoy hanging out with them and cheering their friends on as they show their other animals as well,” Stephanie Wollman said.

And that’s what it’s all about.

The Sioux Empire Fair starts Friday, August 5th, and continues through Saturday, August 13th.