SD State Fair shows strong numbers

Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. – A solid start to the fair, coupled with increased campers and numbers in the open class livestock programs and 4-H, laid the foundation for a strong gate attendance at the SD State Fair. Attendance at the 2016 SD State Fair was 211,371, up slightly from last year’s attendance number.

“The 2016 State Fair was another great success,” said SD State Fairgrounds Manager Peggy Besch. “We had great crowds, great weather and based on all of the positive feedback from fairgoers, a great customer experience. I think the quality of projects exhibited by 4-H and FFA Youth combined with so many educational and entertainment opportunities; it just makes for a great fair experience.”

Camping numbers were at an all-time high, with the SD State Fair hosting 1,938 campers over the five day fair. Fair organizers hope to break 2,000 in 2017.

Correspondingly, increases in revenue were posted in several areas. Gate revenue was up 5 percent, while camping revenue was up 9 percent. Concession and vendor rent posted an increase, as well as an increase in sponsorships collected. GoldStar Amusements posted the largest day in their history on Sat. Sept. 3.

Open class livestock barns were full due to increases in exhibitor numbers and entry numbers. Exhibitors were up 14 percent while entries were up 26 percent.

The Nordby Exhibit Hall for 4-H, Youth and Community opened its doors for the first time during the fair. The Nordby Exhibit Hall was a hub for 4-H during the fair, with 8,359 entries showcased. 4-H livestock exhibit numbers were also up by 11 percent.

“The smiles of satisfaction as people entered the building will remain with me for a long time” said Peter Nielson, 4-H youth development program director for SDSU Extension. “Though it was great to move into a new home for South Dakota 4-H at the State Fair, we have only scratched the surface for potential for State Fair 4-H presence. The push is on and the planning is beginning for an even better 2017 State Fair. We’re up to the challenge to push the visual presence of the educational aspect of 4-H through the future use of the building. Our youth, staff and volunteers will use this to showcase the value of 4-H.”

The 2016 SD State Fair ran from Thursday, Sept. 1, through Monday, Sept. 5. Channel Seeds Preview night was Wednesday, Aug. 31. This year’s theme was “Thrills, Squeals and Ferris Wheels.” For more information on State Fair events, contact the Fair office at 800-529-0900, visit or find them on Facebook or Twitter.