Sioux Empire Fair vendors share thoughts on this year’s turnout

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – After Saturday, the midway at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds will once again be quiet as the 81st annual Sioux Empire Fair comes to a close. Many events were cancelled this year because of COVID-19, but the fair pressed on.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Sioux Empire Fair still had a lot to offer from rides, food, art services and cute animals. And vendors here say that they’re glad they still got the opportunity to come out.

“We like being here. It’s really nice and a lot of friendly people,” Steve Borer, owner of Steve’s All American Kettle Corn Company, said.

“It’s fun to people watch, I would say. It seems like everybody’s just having a good time and glad to be here,” Monet Ernste, owner of Henna Haven, said.

However, vendors have noticed a drop in attendance.

“The COVID virus, it’s really reduced the amount of people, I think, that have been coming to the fair,” Borer said.

Steve Borer is from Minnesota. He says being able to still come to the Sioux Empire Fair has been good for business.

“A lot of these vendors, a lot of them, this is their only means of income, you know. This has affected us so much. You know, a lot of the times you have to make all your income in these four, five months for the whole year,” Borer said.

Monet Ernste has been doing Henna tattoos at the fair for four years. She says the lower numbers haven’t impacted her business to much.

“Even with the numbers down a bit, it’s been a great year. It’s been busy and there’s still a lot of people coming out. It’s been a great time,” Ernste said.

Alicia Mogler with the Pipestone Discovery Barn says they are only able to go to the South Dakota fairs this year.

“Very thankful that South Dakota let us come. We will be going to South Dakota state fair also in a couple weeks. We usually go to about nine different fairs,” Alicia Mogler, communications coordinator for Pipestone Discovery Barn, said.

And it wasn’t just the vendors traveling from other states.

“I’ve heard of some people who traveled just to come to the fair. We had people from Texas, Missouri, Ohio and then Alaska,” Courtney Drenth, director of marketing of public relations at the Sioux Empire Fair, said.

Drenth says she hopes anyone who wasn’t comfortable with coming this year can make it in 2021.

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