Our View: State Fair must survive; it needs funds
Just as serious threats about the State Fair are seemingly dashed for the present, another has come to the forefront. Gov. Mike Rounds on Thursday suggested cutting the $775,000 in annual funding the fair gets from the state, the very funding tha...
Just as serious threats about the State Fair are seemingly dashed for the present, another has come to the forefront.
Gov. Mike Rounds on Thursday suggested cutting the $775,000 in annual funding the fair gets from the state, the very funding that -- along with some strategic format changes -- gave the fair a firm foothold for the first time in years.
Without that funding, the State Fair could cease to exist. And adding to the many philosophical problems we have with that comes another problem.
Adding to the situation is a century-old land document that could take the fairgrounds out of the public's hands. The 1905 paperwork states that if the fair is not held even for one year, the land on which the fair is held could be taken over by a railroad company.
First, some background.
The State Fair wasn't doing well financially until recently, plagued by a lack of funding and, in some people's opinion, format and scheduling problems that were sapping the event's financial viability. But changes came, most notably in the form of a shorter, more concise, fair schedule and regular state monetary aid.
It wasn't long ago that some members of the state Legislature were hinting that fairs in Rapid City and Sioux Falls were the real answer to the annual State Fair. They said the State Fair, as we know it, should be allowed to simply fade away. The Central States Fair in Rapid City and the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls then could be allowed to take its place, at least in concept only.
We thought that was a terrible idea. And now we cannot help but note the irony when we hear that the Sioux Empire Fair is having financial troubles.
Without the $775,000 influx of state money, the State Fair in Huron is in serious trouble. We think that's unfortunate, since things seem to have been going well in recent years.
Attendance has been up, as have gate receipts at grandstand entertainment. Current management seems to have the fair in good working order.
To pull the rug out now would be disastrous for so many reasons.
It would negatively affect the economy of Huron and the many small towns that surround it; it would deprive us of that longtime agriculture tradition that is the State Fair; and it very well could mean the state would lose the fairgrounds.
We know the economy is in rough shape, and we know cuts must be made to the state budget.
Lawmakers, we ask you to strongly consider all of the cons before voting to approve the governor's proposed fair cuts.
This region needs the State Fair. Our kids need it to remind them of our agrarian heritage and so many businesses need it to make ends meet.