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2018 Pheasant Fest to be in Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS -- To celebrate a century of pheasant hunting in the state, officials announced Monday that the 2018 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic will be held in "best state to hunt pheasants in the nation."...

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Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Dave Nomsen, the director of South Dakota, Pheasants Forever, Inc. listen as it's announced that the 2018 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic will be held in Sioux Falls. (Sara Bertsch/ Republic)

SIOUX FALLS - To celebrate a century of pheasant hunting in the state, officials announced Monday that the 2018 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic will be held in “best state to hunt pheasants in the nation.”

“It is big news for South Dakota that we have finally secured Pheasant Fest to come to the state where it rightfully belongs,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard to the large crowd that gathered outside of the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls. “The National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic is going to bring big crowds to South Dakota and why not? This is the best state to hunt pheasants in the nation, very clearly.”

The announcement drew in appearances not only by Gov. Daugaard, but also Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever, Inc.; Dave Nomsen, the director of South Dakota, Pheasants Forever, Inc.; Teri Schmidt, the executive director of the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; and Tom Walsh, the CEO and chairman of Dakota King.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” said Dave Nomsen, the director of South Dakota Pheasants Forever, Inc. “2018 will be the 100th pheasant hunting season in the state.”

This national trade show, which focuses on wildlife habitat management and restoration, wildlife conservation and upland game bird hunting, will take place in 2018. Specific dates were not given during the announcement, but it is the first time South Dakota will hold the national event, which was held in Kansas City this year and will be held in Minneapolis in 2017.

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The 2018 event will also celebrate Pheasants Forever’s 35th anniversary. South Dakota’s 100th pheasant hunting season will take place in the autumn of 2018.

Pheasants Forever has 34 local chapters within South Dakota. And Nomsen, who is based in Brookings at the regional headquarters office, said the Pheasant Fest will be a great way to showcase the habitat progress South Dakota has made. It will also offer seminars and presentations for farmers and ranchers to learn how to develop habitat and produce more birds on their land.

“We’re going educate them about the tools that are available and the programs that are available,” Nomsen said. “It’s going to take a conscience effort to keep pheasants for another century.”

As the CEO of Pheasants Forever, Vincent said the economic impact of Pheasant Fest on the Sioux Falls community will be more than $5.6 million and estimated to have a statewide economic impact of $230 million.

“That’s what this means for this economy in South Dakota and we believe we are a part of that,” Vincent said. “We believe that you have to put something in the ground. You have to have habitat if you’re going to have wild birds.”

Pheasants Forever opened the first regional headquarters office in Brookings in 2014, after concern increased over loss of habitat and pheasant declines in the state, according to a press release issued by the group.

With 34 local chapters within South Dakota, Pheasants Forever has piloted habitat programs and improved more than 100,000 acres in the past year with landowners interested in voluntary conservation programs, according to the release.

In connection with the trade show, Pheasants Forever holds a variety of seminars including habitat improvement, pheasant hunting, shooting sports, wild game cooking, dog training and conservation.

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The announcement of the 2018 fest in Sioux Falls will serve as “a platform for new habitat initiatives in South Dakota” and will kick off the group’s campaign throughout the state.

Daugaard said last year, there were more than 150,000 hunters in South Dakota, and they bagged an estimated 1.2 million pheasants.

“In South Dakota, opening day for pheasant hunting is to pheasant hunters what Christmas is to children. We get so excited because it is a big, big day for hunting in South Dakota …” Daugaard said. “All over South Dakota, people are hunting pheasants because this is where they’re found. I have memories hunting of pheasants. It’s a tradition in South Dakota for many of us.”

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