Sioux Empire Fair attendance down one-third

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Organizers of this year’s Sioux Empire Fair say they have no regrets about running the week-long event in the midst of a global pandemic. The fair wrapped up over the weekend. And not surprisingly, attendance was down this year.

Those who earn a living on the fair circuit are glad the rain held off until after the Sioux Empire Fair wrapped up on Saturday. They’re also thankful there was even a fair taking place at all, this year.

“Because it’s the first real fair we’ve played in a while and the people came out, attendance was good, and revenue was well, and everything was good, it was a good time,” Crabtree Amusements owner Pat Crabtree said.

Fair management wasn’t expecting attendance to be as good as previous years because of the pandemic. They say overall turnout was down about one-third this year.

“The first Saturday was very, very, very slow and we didn’t have any entertainment in the grandstand. But as we ramped-up, it got a little busier on Sunday and Monday and we were seeing a lot of families coming out earlier so they could be here when there was less traffic, less lines, less lines with rides,” Fair President & CEO Scott Wick said.

Wick ordered more than 100 gallons of hand sanitizer for the duration of the fair. But he was surprised that fairgoers only used about 1-2 gallons total, for each day.

“I honestly thought we would go through a lot more. But it is what it is, and I have enough for next year, yet,” Wick said.

Wick says a lot of families brought their own portable sanitizer, likely accounting for the fewer refills.

Now that the crowds are gone, the carnival rides are off to Aberdeen, with Crabtree hopeful people will be willing to show up, despite the pandemic.

“From what we’ve seen here, I think everything’s going to be great. I think people will come out and enjoy themselves,” Crabtree said.

Wick says he’s also had to re-shuffle staff to help with cleanup since inmates from the state penitentiary weren’t available this year because of the pandemic.

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