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Noem won't participate in Dakotafest forum Wednesday

The political forums at Dakotafest will get underway Wednesday and Republican gubernatorial candidate and Congresswoman Kristi Noem won't be on the stage to take part in the festivities.

The governor's race forum will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, followed by the congressional race forum at 1 p.m. Both events will be 90 minutes each, be focused on agricultural topics, and will take place at the Dakotafest Education Building.

Noem was previously the lone holdout for the event until Monday. The confirmed gubernatorial forum participants include Democratic candidate Billie Sutton, Libertarian candidate Kurt Evans and Constitution Party nominee Terry LaFleur.

Instead, a pair of press releases indicated that Noem will be at Dakotafest on Tuesday afternoon and will participate in two televised debates in October. In a statement, her campaign manager Justin Brasell argued that "people know where Kristi stands, and she's made her plans (for governor) public," contending that Sutton's campaign materials have not done that.

Sutton responded with a press release of his own, touting he's committed to 10 debates and forums in coming months, while alleging that Noem is not willing to debate Sutton.

Don Norton, the CEO of the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Foundation, will moderate the governor's forum.

The congressional race forum will include Republican nominee Dusty Johnson, Democratic candidate Tim Bjorkman, Independent candidate Ron Wieczorek and Libertarian George Hendrickson. Zippy Duvall, a farmer from Georgia and President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, will moderate the congressional forum.