By Senator John Thune
It is that special time of year again when families of all ages from every corner of the state can enjoy the sights and sounds of our state and county fairs. From Turner County to Brown County to the state fair in Huron and everywhere in between, there are multiple opportunities for families to make new memories, continue old traditions, and reconnect with friends and family.
While the food, rides, and concerts are certainly the highlight for many fairgoers, there is more to these local celebrations than cotton candy and tilt-a-whirls. Fairs also present a good opportunity to highlight all of our agriculture producers from around the state. Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry, and there is a lot to celebrate. Our farmers and ranchers not only carry on the generations-long tradition of working hard and living off of the land, but they also contribute a great deal to our state and local economies and communities.
Preserving these traditions is important, which is why getting the next generation of farmers involved and interested at an early age is so crucial. I am always glad to see so many 4-H demonstrations, booths, and activities as I travel from fair to fair. They are not only a staple of the fair scene, but they give young South Dakotans the chance to show off their talents and inspire others to participate as well.
Thankfully, the avian influenza outbreak that swept through the Midwest earlier this year, which affected nearly 50 million birds nationwide, has begun to subside. The outbreak took a toll on egg production in the United States, and costs, both to consumers and farmers, skyrocketed. At this year’s state fair, farmers and ranchers can receive an important update on the outbreak and learn more about its impact on South Dakota. This is just one of many examples of the educational opportunities available this year at the state fair.
I know that I mentioned there is more to the fair than the food and entertainment, but I would be lying if I said that I do not look forward to stopping by the Pork Producers’ or Cattlemen’s booth for a sandwich or attending events like the rodeo championship or an evening concert. These are the things that memories are made of, and I look forward to this season each year to experience these events firsthand with my own family.
If we cross paths at your local fair, be sure to stop and say hello – I look forward to seeing you soon.