State Fair officials implementing safety measures to welcome fair goers

The Carnival at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron. Matt Gade / Forum News Service

Despite the risks that come with hosting large events in the midst of coronavirus, South Dakota State Fair officials are confident their safety measures will keep attendees safe.

From signage encouraging social distancing to staggered tables spread out for fair food lovers, the State Fair may look a bit different this year with the pandemic lingering.

“The health and safety of our fair goers and visitors is top priority,” said Candi Briley, assistant manager of the State Fair. “We have a number of health and safety measures that we will be implementing, and we are hoping for a fun and safe fair.”

To implement the most effective safety precautions at this year’s 135th annual State Fair in Huron, fair officials have been working closely with the state Department of Health.

Briley has found a way to make social distancing signs a little fun. Staying true to the theme of the State Fair, Briley said the signage will have a comical twist in hopes to catch more fair goers attention.


“We want to keep everything fair-friendly, and one of our signs talks about keeping six feet away from each other, which should be the length of about six corn dogs,” Briley said. “The signs will be along the entryways and around the fairgrounds. Reminding people to social distance is the key.”

According to Briley, there will be a designated sanitation crew tasked with deep cleaning various areas throughout the fairgrounds. In addition, fair crew members will have access to COVID-19 testing during and after the event through the help of local healthcare professionals.

“They will be continually cleaning, especially in those high contact areas, so we will be cleaning those often,” Briley said.

On average, the State Fair sees upward of 200,000. While Briley anticipates the attendance for this year’s State Fair to drop a bit, she is proud that the festivities will go on, which kicks off Sept. 3 and wraps up Sept. 7.

Briley said fair officials are closely monitoring the COVID-19 case numbers in South Dakota, and will continue to do so during the week-long event. Although the state saw its highest single-day increase of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic on Aug. 22 with 251, Briley said the fair is moving full steam ahead. However, she emphasized that fair officials are remaining flexible if an outbreak were to occur.

“We have kept our planning flexible to respond to different things as needed to be prepared in that manner,” Briley said.

On the food side of the fair, Briley said tables will be staggered around with enough distance for fair goers to sit down and enjoy the wide variety of food vendors. The vendors are also being asked to keep self-serve condiments behind their counters to cut down on hand to hand contact among customers.

Considering the fair is an outdoor event, it provides more space for social distancing, which Briley hopes will help attendees practice the safety measures fair officials are encouraging.


“You do hear events being held outside allow for people to distance themselves more, but we want to do everything we can to keep everyone safe” Briley said.

Regardless of the risks that fair officials are taking on with hosting the event, Briley hopes the fair provides the type of fun experience for all who attend.

“We’re looking forward to putting on the best fair that we possibly can,” Briley said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
What To Read Next
Get Local