State fair commission reviews strategic plan

HURON – From major projects like replacing the sheep barn to ongoing ones upgrading electrical systems, South Dakota State Fair commissioners have developed a strategic plan that also includes goals for staffing, marketing and fund raising through 2020.
Board members on Tuesday also reviewed their October work session that tackled thorny issues regarding parking, gate policy, golf carts, garbage control and security, among others.
State Fair Manager Peggy Besch said 2018 revenues were up significantly. Some of the expenses incurred by hosting this year’s successful National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Huron will mean they will come in lower after the city and state fairgrounds host the event once again next June.
Huron will also submit a bid in late January to host the rodeo finals in 2026-27 or 2028-29. The city is also hosting the Red Power Roundup again in June 2020, and Besch told commissioners planning is well underway. A web site will be set up in February.
Meanwhile, commissioners spent considerable time at their October work session and again Tuesday talking about ways they can strengthen their gate policy to prevent people and vehicles from entering the fairgrounds without proper credentials.
They are looking at a new system for admittance that will lessen conflicts between gate personnel and fairgoers. Many of the ideas commissioners discussed at their earlier session are part of an ongoing brainstorming effort.
It also includes proposals pertaining to trailer parking and better training for staff and courtesy cart drivers of golf carts during the State Fair. Golf cart usage has been a challenge for a number of years, and the public has been reminded that South Dakota is the only state in the country that still permits them on the grounds so State Fair staff and commissioners have been working to keep problems to a minimum.
Commissioners are also looking for outside groups who might be interested in assisting with garbage control as a fund raising project. Improving security is also an issue.
The board is considering the creation of a South Dakota State Fair Park Foundation director’s position, an individual who would possibly partner with other organizations for employment.
Other proposals include a naming rights plan for the buildings and better marketing.
Besch reviewed projects the board members identified as priorities during their strategic planning session, including roof repairs on the Open Class Beef Complex, minor repairs and painting at the rabbit barn, new restrooms and possibly an outside canopy at the beer garden and painting and repairs at the Tech Center.
But there are a number of maintenance and repair projects specifically scheduled for the coming months and into next year, including improvements to the Coyote Campground and electrical upgrades at several of the buildings.
Besch said the fairgrounds hosted 110 events, representing 231 days, of off-season events this year. That is down slightly from 2017, but two reasons are the discontinuation of the stock car racing program and the April blizzard that forced the cancelation of two significant events.


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