Fair board considers joint-use option

Grabbing a greased pig is no easy task, but many teams were up to the challenge at this summer’s Sioux County Youth Fair. 

SIOUX CENTER—There will always be a Sioux County Youth Fair.

That’s the message the Sioux County Fair Board wants county residents to know.

“We keep getting conflicting concerns about the fair, one of which is that there won’t be a fair next year, but that’s not true,” said fair board president Craig De Haan of Orange City. “The county will always have a fair and a location. Now that location will change eventually, but we’re not feeling pressure by the city other than that they want us to keep moving forward.”

The city of Sioux Center presented its request in the winter of 2018 for the fair board to find a new location for the fair.

The city sold the land on which Sioux Speedway was located on the north side of the fairgrounds to the Sioux Center School District for construction of its new high school facility, which began this summer.

“With the track already gone, we know the time is ticking for finding another location for the fair,” De Haan said, “but the city of Sioux Center also knows the fair is an important part of Sioux County and they won’t take the land away until we’ve found a new home for the fair and have moved to that home.”

Within the past year and half, the fair board reached out to all Sioux County communities, which led to brief discussions with Rock Valley and Hawarden. However, De Haan said presently the fair board is in discussion with the city of Sioux Center, Dordt University and the Sioux County Events Center Committee about finding a joint-use location.

Having such a partnership would benefit the fair in two ways — keeping the fair centrally located within the county and reducing the cost of moving for the fair board.

“Who exactly will be involved in the end is still under discussion, but if we could come together for a joint-use type of facility, then the financial burden we would bare is much less for the fair board,” De Haan said.

The 2019 income for the Sioux County Youth Fair was $92,614.81, a little more than $35,000 of which is outside aid and about $9,000 is non-fair income that includes facility rentals, which would go away when it moves to a new location.

Expenses totaled $89,838.86, about $68,000 of which is on the fair itself, giving the fair board a net profit of $2,775.95 for this year.

“We will have to partner with someone to move the fair purely from a financial standpoint,” De Haan said. “Going forward, the next one to three years we’ll be at the same location because we don’t believe we can get all that accomplished in that short amount of time, but we’re going to try.”

De Haan said the board has come around to the idea of moving the county fair.

“At first we weren’t excited about the whole deal, but we know that sometimes change is good,” he said. “A new facility might bring new excitement. We just know that we need a facility that will support what we have now and then some extra room in case we can grow this fair again in hopes that the future would be bright.”

Fairgrounds history

This will not be the first time the county fair as moved locations. The Sioux County Youth Fair actually has had five different locations within the county since it began in the early 1900s. It first was held a half mile north of Orange City. The last fair held there was in 1948, according to “A Pocket of Civility: A History of Sioux Center.”

In 1949-50, Sioux County held its 4-H shows at the sale barn at 335 First Ave. NW where the Sioux Center City Office is presently located.

Just for one summer in 1951 the fair was held in Hospers. Then five 4-H leaders, one from each 4-H district and three directors at-large, were appointed to start a youth fair promotion committee. “They voted and decided to locate in Sioux Center,” according to “A Pocket of Civility.”

The history book went on to note that four acres of ground was purchased in the city limits for $4,000 and a lease for 50 years was obtained for an additional 11 acres. The site is the present home Tower Fields at the corner of Second Avenue Southwest and Ninth Street Southwest in Sioux Center. The first fair there was held Aug. 12-14, 1952.

By 1970-71, plans were made for relocating the fairground site one mile east of Sioux Center, which is its present site on the corner of Seventh Street Northeast and 13th Avenue Northeast. The first fair held there was 1972. The Sioux County Youth Fair wrapped up its 47th year this summer at its present location.