Board stands by no Brown County Fair in 2020 recommendation

ABERDEEN, S.D. (By Elisa Sand – The Brown County Fair Board decision has not changed since the June 9 county commission meeting.

Last week, the Brown County Commission heard the fair board’s unanimous recommendation to not have a county fair this year. But much of the discussion by commissioners broached the topic of possibly still having something at the fairgrounds — the Dacotah Stampede Rodeo, for instance.

Commissioners made no final decision last week and plan to discuss the topic again Tuesday morning.

The Brown County Fair Board had a special meeting on Monday to continue discussion. Many on the board stood by their original decision and no new vote was taken.

“I do not feel comfortable even supporting a partial fair,” said Kristen Gonsoir, fair board second vice president.

She said she came to this conclusion after quite a bit of research and reading this past week.

Board member Don Gange also said he stood by his original vote.

“Regardless of the decision, I will not be there,” he said.

Others asked if the date for a smaller event could be earlier in the summer so it wasn’t right before school started on Aug. 18.

In updates to the fair board, Fair Manager Derek Ricci said it’s possible he can source some two-seat golf carts, but four-seaters and six-seaters are iffy. There is potential for a combined carnival that would be available, he said, but it would be smaller.

Ricci also said he’s having challenges sourcing the sanitizer and disinfectant needed, and has a possible contact in Omaha, Neb. There are also 31 vendor spots open at this time, he said.

Dave Lunzman, chief deputy for the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, said security is currently in a holding pattern. Officers from other agencies who help do so voluntarily, although they are paid. He said if they’re required to wear a mask for safety, that adds to the equipment they already wear on a hot day.

Emergency Management Director Scott Meints said although Brown County’s numbers are moving in the right direction, the county is still listed as having substantial community spread.

Ricci confirmed there was a positive COVID-19 case in the fair office, which will have a short-term impact on resources the fair board relies on in planning.

Commission Chairwoman Rachel Kippley said there was a sense after last week’s commission meeting that maybe something could happen at the fairgrounds.

“I think the community is hungry to do something,” she said.

But, she said, she also realizes anything that does happen — even a two-day rodeo — needs the help of the fair board and volunteers to make it go.

Ricci previously said that grandstand act Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has already canceled. And, he said, other entertainers could also decide they don’t want to perform.