Fairgoers enjoy rides, food and getting out of the house during the pandemic

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Many events were cancelled this year because of COVID-19, but the Sioux Empire Fair is not one of them.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the 81st Annual Sioux Empire Fair is still happening. Fairgoers say it’s nice to be able to get out of the house and enjoy some carnival rides and eat some fair food.

“There wasn’t really much to do this summer besides Wild Water West but that was about it. And when it first came out, like you couldn’t really do anything because you had to be stuck inside. I’m glad to be outside and see some people that I know from school or other places,” fairgoers Kylie Zurcher and Jaylah Mohr said.

Soulek: What do you like about the fair?

“There’s some really great games out here that you can win some really cool prizes like this,” fairgoer Graham said.

To help protect attendees, hand sanitizer stations and more areas to wash your hands were set up. Employees running the rides and game booths wore masks as well. Fairgoers weren’t required to wear a face covering, but it was encouraged.

Susan Zeigler and her mom Cheryl Winningham enjoy coming to the fair every year, but this year they’ve noticed something different.

“To be honest, I think probably a little less people, maybe a little bit just because of the COVID. But I think people are pretty much like spread apart so it’s really easy to come here and not worry about trying to get it,” Zeigler said.

There could be other factors playing into lower attendance, too.

“I mean, it’s cooler today so who knows, and they don’t have a lot of the vendors that they usually do,” vendor Jennifer Ernste said.

Jennifer Ernste is a vendor at the fair. She says they had to scale back a bit in their shaved ice booth.

“We normally have a big table out and a tent over it with hundreds of flavors for people to do their own shaved ice. Now we only have like, I don’t know, twenty flavors that we’re scrambling inside to do for everybody, so, it’s different,” Ernste said.

She says they are thankful to still be able to enjoy and work at the fair.

The Sioux Empire Fair goes until August 8. More information can be found on the Sioux Empire Fair website.

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