Eye on KELOLAND: The Sioux Empire Fair goes on


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While many regional fairs have made the decision to cancel this year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s not the case for the Sioux Empire Fair. In less than a month, people will be able to attend the eight-day event. But before that happens, preparations are underway to provide a safe, clean environment for fairgoers.

The W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds may be pretty empty today, but in just a few short weeks this place is expected to be filled with the sights and sounds of the fair.

The 81st annual Sioux Empire Fair is on track for the first week of August.

“As the fair committee and the board got together we talked about how things could look, little different dynamics with 4-H not being active until state fair, the carnival will look a little bit different, but we just decided that with the way things are and the numbers are looking that we felt confident moving forward,” president and CEO W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds and Sioux Empire Fair, Scott Wick said.

While Wick says the fair will look similar to years before, you can expect a few adjustments.

“We are still going to have all of our livestock open shows, 4-H is on some mandatory restrictions, so we won’t have any 4-H sponsored livestock shows, but all of our open shows are open,” Wick said.

But there will still be plenty to do, including grandstand entertainment and carnival rides.

“As far as concerts go, we were in close contact with all of our entertainers, because we didn’t want anybody doing anything they weren’t comfortable with,” Wick said. “And there’s been a few minor requests for the back of house, back stage, but nothing that is crazy, they said they are excited to come play music.”

“The carnival is coming, they are finalizing what rides they will bring but we will have 30 rides here at the fair,” director of marketing and public relations, Courtney Drenth said. “We still have a lot of things like the art center so people who picked up a hobby during this time, they can show it off in the art center, we will still have the Pipestone Discovery Barn, Old MacDonald’s Farm, grandstand entertainment, the carnival, and fair food.”

Wick says there will be extra staff to help with cleaning throughout the fair.

“We’ve doubled our bathroom crews as far as cleaning and sanitizing the bathrooms, so we’ve got extra personal for that, that we are going to have on hand, we also are going to have documentation on the doors on the bathrooms, that will have a date, a person, and time it was cleaned, stocked, and sanitized,” Wick said.

Additionally officials say they have doubled the amount of hand washing stations.

Fairgoers will also find hand sanitizer stations at gate entrances.

“We’ve taken our cattle tie-outs to sustain a theme with agriculture and painting them and we are going to have anywhere from four to six hand-sanitizing mechanisms on there,” Wick said. “Each dispenser has 1,000 dispenses, and between the carnival and ourselves, we will open up everyday with between 80,000 and 100,000 doses, dispenses.”

The stations aren’t in place yet, but fair staff demonstrated how they will work.

“People can easily just walk up to a dispenser and put their hand underneath and it will automatically dispense and they can continue on through the gate,” Drenth said.

The fair will run August 1st through the 8th.

And now organizers are looking forward to welcoming people back for all their fair favorites.

“We feel that if you want to come out, you’re more than welcome if you don’t feel comfortable we fully support and respect that,” Wick said. “We feel that we are moving ahead in a responsible fashion and we have the support that we need right now, and we believe that is going to continue through the fair so we are very excited to open up and see how well it is received.”

Wick says they also have the ability to make their own make their disinfectant solution.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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