HURON -- The South Dakota State Fair Foundation has started a fundraising campaign to raise $4 million build the Dakota Events Complex, or the DEX, which will be the new multipurpose livestock and equestrian facility at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron.

“In South Dakota, we see challenges as an opportunity to grow, to build for the future,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in a statement. “The new DEX will be a state-of-the-art facility which will attract regional and national events to Huron.

The previous 96,000 square-foot building was destroyed by an Oct. 31, 2020 fire in Huron. The building's footprint will replace the fairgrounds' Beef Complex, which will be demolished in February and replace the Sheep Barn.

The estimated cost of the DEX is $19 million. To pay for the project, Noem has asked the legislature for $12 million in one-time funds. The one-time funds, plus insurance payments from the fire leaves $4 million to be raised by the State Fair Foundation.

“It is a big ask,” said Jim White, fundraising committee chair. “But we have the opportunity to build a facility that will impact the fair for generations."

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The ‘Discover the DEX’ campaign includes several donor opportunities for all donation levels including naming rights, donor wall sponsorships, and a brand and name recognition display. (Information on how to donate can be found at www.sdstatefairfoundation.com.)

The 200,000 square-foot building will have two, full-sized equestrian arenas and seat up to 7,000 fans, making it a one-of-a-kind venue for hosting local, regional, and national events.

During the fair, the DEX will house the open class beef and open class 4-H beef exhibitors, while the open class sheep and goat exhibitors will be moved to the existing 4-H Livestock Complex. This allows for species specific barns across the fairgrounds, a trend favored by exhibitors, and addresses livestock transportation issues on the fairgrounds. Project planners are working diligently with the sheep and goat exhibitors to improve the existing 4-H Livestock Complex.

Demolition of the Open Class Beef Complex began in December, with project design efforts following in spring 2021. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held during the 2021 fair and the DEX will be up and running in time for the 2022 fair.