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2021 Central States Fair saw crowds of families and people from out of state

The Central States Fair wrapped up last night, closing what officials say was another great year.
The Central States Fair wrapped up last night, closing what officials say was another great year.(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 3:44 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Central States Fair wrapped up last night, closing what officials say was another great year.

Despite lockdowns and hesitancy, the 2020 Central States Fair went on but numbers weren’t as good as in years past.

Fast forward to 2021 and people returning to normal, fair foot traffic looks to be back on track.

“Overall, I thought the event was a very good success, we’re still running numbers to see how we were traffic-wise,” said Ron Jeffries, the general manager of the Central States Fair. ”Some indicators say we might be close to that 2018 mark, which was a big year for us. But certainly well ahead of last year and if we’re at 2019 numbers, then were fantastic as well. We seem to make a little bit of improvement every year.”

This year’s event overlapped with the start of the school year for many students, causing a little lag in attendance.

“Typically the Sturgis Rally ends on Sunday and then the next Friday we start and then the next Monday, school starts,” continued Jeffries. “That’s the typical schedule and this year, school started a little bit earlier so it did impact some of our day traffic.”

But the people that did attend were mixed between families, “We worked on a lot of different kids activities, everything from sandbox cash scrambles to chalk coloring on the ground to coloring book contest in the Soule building,” said Jeffries. “We did some of that family entertainment stuff to bring those families back in.”

And people from out of state, “We were surprised at the amount of people from out of state that were here,” continued Jeffries. “From Iowa, from Arizona, from Utah, that were coming in and participating in our fair. That’s not typically what we see. On a regular basis, we see some but it seemed like there was much more visitor traffic than we’ve had in the past. So many states were locked down so tight and their people were literally trapped in their homes for an entire year and they watched all that time about South Dakota being open. And when those people watched that for an entire year, they said “when I get out of here, I’m going to South Dakota”. And I think everybody, the tourist industry, the hotels, all the recreational places in the Black Hills have seen that this year.”

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