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Governor's Column: The State Fair Grandstand’s Centennial Year





 

 

          Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard

500 E. Capitol Ave.

Pierre, S.D. 57501

605-773-3212

www.sd.gov

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, August 24, 2018

CONTACT:  Tony Venhuizen or Kelsey Pritchard at 605-773-3212

 

EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS:  Please consider the following column from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. For an audio recording of the Governor’s weekly column, visit http://news.sd.gov/player.aspx.   

                              

 

The State Fair Grandstand’s Centennial Year

 

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

 

Much changes in the course of a century. Looking back to 1918, it was a different world. The United States was engaged in World War I, communities were experiencing the devastation of the Spanish flu pandemic and the right to vote was extended to women in South Dakota. Here in our state, it was also the year the grandstand was built on the state fairgrounds.

 

In the spring of 1918, S-W Jonason and Company, of Aberdeen, began construction of a reinforced concrete and steel-trussed grandstand. Previously, the fair had utilized for a grandstand an old frame building which had been purchased and moved from Yankton. With the fair outgrowing this old structure, the South Dakota Fair Association paid S-W Jonason $55,000 (which would amount to just under $1 million today) to build the new grandstand. Reporters described it as “a looming structure, some 70 feet in height and measuring 300 feet in length.” The concrete was mixed at a central point, then elevated in a bucket tower at the back of the structure. Using a runway and chute system, beams, columns, and deck were formed and poured all at one time, from the roof level down.

 

While the grandstand was used for the 1918 fair that fall, it was not entirely completed. A state Board of Agriculture report noted the structure was “so nearly done that it was used and found to be most comfortable and satisfactory.” After the fair was over, officials declared the grandstand already “outgrown.” Work began immediately to expand it by adding bleacher wings to each side.

 

Over the years there have been many maintenance projects and improvements to the structure. In 1965, a major remodel completely enclosed the underside of the grandstand with masonry block, along with the addition of fiberglass panels, office and ticket space, and room for exhibit displays. Then, in 2017, a multi-phase project began to fix structural deficiencies and modernize the facility for a new generation of fairgoers.

 

The State Fair is one of South Dakota’s longest-running traditions. While there have been many changes since the first fair opened in 1885, the grandstand has been a constant at the fairgrounds for the last 100 years. It has served as a meeting place for friends and neighbors to get a break from the routine and see the very best in arts, entertainment, livestock competitions and sporting events. This centennial year is no exception with a lineup that includes the Tuff Hedeman Bull Bash, the Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pull, Toby Keith, Gary Allan and Foreigner.

 

The fair runs from Thursday, Aug. 30, through Monday, Sept. 3. I hope you’ll be able to make it out for this one-of-a-kind celebration of agriculture and community. While you’re there, take a look at the refurbished grandstand, take a seat and enjoy the show.

 

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