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As COVID Cases Rise, No Expectations On State Fair Turnout

Krystal Schoenbauer

The South Dakota State Fair is officially underway, despite the rising number of new COVID 19 cases.

Officials say it’s hard to gauge how many will attend this year’s state fair in Huron.

A typical fair brings in anywhere from 200,000 to 217,000 attendees.

The state fair is one of many large scale events held in the state, despite the global coronavirus pandemic.

From fireworks at Mt. Rushmore to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the Sioux Empire Fair, South Dakota is one of the only state’s in the country bringing together large groups of people.

In October, the state is sponsoring an indoor concert featuring “country music singer” Chris Young at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

That concerns public health experts, because the virus spreads even when people don’t show symptoms.

Speaking at the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary, Noem attributes the recent rise in cases to students returning to academia.

“Some of this, I believe, is due to being back in college, back in school, going back to some normal activities,” Noem says. “Although in South Dakota, we’ve been back to normal, largely, for almost four months now. So, I think it’s a testimony to you can continue to live and slow down the spread of the virus.”

But, the seven-day average of new COVID 19 infections is up five-fold from four months ago.

Noem says it’s encouraging that most positive cases are in younger people. She says they will recover and have fewer symptoms.

The state fair runs through Monday, September 7th.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.