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South Dakota State Fair Commissioner Loren Noess, of Mitchell, speaks Sunday at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron. Noess announced that nearly $1.2 million has been raised toward the construction of a new, $4 million 4-H building at the fairgrounds. (Chris Mueller/Republic)

Nearly $1.2M already raised for new 4-H building

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HURON -- Nearly $1.2 million has already been raised in an effort to build a new, $4 million 4-H building at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron.

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During a fundraising campaign kickoff held Sunday at the fairgrounds, State Fair Commissioner Loren Noess, of Mitchell, announced that $1,183,250 has already been raised for the new 4-H building after only a few months of fundraising.

"We'll be in full force for the next year to get this going," he said.

About 1,500 people attended a barbecue held in conjunction with the campaign kickoff. Tickets for the event cost $2 and all the proceeds went toward the fundraising effort.

An estimated $4 million will need to be raised to replace the rundown Clover Hall -- the current facility that was built in the 1950s -- with a 47,000 square-foot exhibit hall with an open floor plan for exhibits, a portable stage and large classrooms, with office space and storage space.

The money already raised was donated by businesses and individuals, and by vendors and exhibitors at the fair, according to State Fair Manager Jerome Hertel.

The new 4-H building is planned for the same site as the current facility, which is located on the northwest side of the fairgrounds. The old building, which currently can only be used for displays, will need to be demolished to make way for the new building.

Once it's finished, the new 4-H building will bring all of the fair's 4-H activities to a central location, rather than being spread out across the fairgrounds, Hertel said.

"It will be a showcase for everybody who attends the fair," Noess said.

If the fundraising effort is finished by next summer, the design of the new building could be finalized in the fall and construction could begin the following spring, Hertel said.

"We want to do something to ensure the future of 4-H here on the fairgrounds," he said.

The new building will serve as an exhibit hall during the fair, but also will remain open in the offseason for other events, such as farm shows, craft shows and concerts, to generate additional revenue for the fair, Hertel said. Offices for State Fair staff and Beadle County Extension also will be included in the new building.

"The replacement of the exhibit hall is essential for the continued success of the State Fair," he said.

South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch, who spoke at the event, said the new building will represent a commitment to the future of agriculture in the state.

"If you're a young person here this evening, I want you to understand something," he said. "This is a gift for your future."

Lentsch called on those in the crowd to donate, and to search for other individuals or businesses who might be willing to donate to the cause.

"Just get out there and be a part of this conversation, because we need you," he said.

Warren Lotsberg, chairman of the State Fair Commission, said it was gratifying to see so much support for the project already.

"The State Fair is in Huron and this building is going to be in Huron, but this is a statewide thing," he said.

Paula Linke, of Woonsocket, executive secretary for the state 4-H Leaders Association, worked with a small group of volunteers who served barbecue to the people attending the event.

"It's just fun to be part of the excitement that's going on with 4-H right now," she said.