With the arrival of August, it’s Yankton County Fair time.
Because of COVID-19, last year’s fair was limited to virtual judging of exhibits and no major activities. This year, the fair returns Thursday-Saturday to the Pine Acres Fairgrounds in Yankton sporting a new look with more activities.
“We’re planning a county fair, the same as always, and we’re adding new things,” said Katie Doty, the 4-H Youth Development Coordinator.
The event’s name was changed in recent years from Achievement Days to Yankton County Fair to reflect the wider range of events. This year’s activities include a supper, open air concert and dance, a traveling zoo and kids pony cart rides.
This week’s fair marks the return of in-person exhibits, competition and activities, Doty said.
Thursday afternoon’s competitions are limited to the entrants and judges. However, the evening features a 7 p.m. “Movie Night” open to the public at the fairgrounds.
The 4-H building will remain open both Friday and Saturday (Aug. 6-7) so fairgoers can view the static (non-livestock) exhibits and animal entries.
The action kicks into high gear Friday and Saturday, with activities appealing not only to farm families but also to the general public, Doty said.
On Friday, the activity kicks off with the 4-H swine show at 9 a.m., followed by the Farmers Union Safety Trailer and bean bag tournament opening at 10 a.m.
The safety trailer emphasizes safety on the farm. Agriculture has been ranked as one of the most dangerous occupations. In particular, care is needed during extremely busy times of the year and when working around machinery, grain bins and electric lines.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the National Park Service (NPS) will host its Mobile Ranger Station. The NPS uses the station as an educational outreach. The station traditionally features park activities as well as the history and culture of the region and its residents.
At 11 a.m., the 4-H competition continues with the rabbit, poultry and companion animal show.
The afternoon features the barnyard carnival from 1-3 p.m. and the kids pedal pull at 2 p.m. (registration at 1:30 p.m.)
The vendor fair, which debuted in 2019, wasn’t held in 2020 because of the pandemic but returns this year from 4-8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The vendors rent space good for both days, while visitors can attend free of charge. “We received good feedback from our first vendor fair in 2019,” Doty said.
On Friday, fairgoers can attend the 4-H fashion review style show at 4:30 p.m., according to Yankton County Extension office manager Danielle McFarland.
The judging, held earlier in the afternoon, will be limited to entrants and judges, McFarland said. The competition consists of two parts, the manufactured and selected outfits, she said.
“The manufactured outfits are the ones you make yourself, while the selected outfits are those you purchased from a store. Both look at the quality and fit of the clothes, along with how it looks on the 4-Her,” she said.
“With the manufactured outfit, the judges look at how the entry was constructed and the final outcome. With the selected outfit, they look at the choice and if it was a good buy for the money.”
The 4-H Beef Show begins at 5 p.m., signaling the last livestock competition of the day.
From 5-6 p.m., the Yankton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agribusiness Committee holds a free ice cream social.
Friday night offers a time for food and entertainment, Doty said.
The supper will run from 5-7:30 p.m., while the BS Band will perform again this year from 7-11 p.m. on the grass area of the fairgrounds. Both the supper and concert tickets can be purchased at the time.
On Saturday, a full day of activities returns to the fairgrounds with a variety of events for all ages.
The day kicks off with flapjacks, as the pancake feed runs from 8-11 a.m. The 4-H competition resumes with the 4-H sheep and goat show at 9 a.m.
From 9-11 a.m., Young Wrangler Club member Mackenzie Steinbrecher will offer her pony and mini-cart for kids’ rides.
The vendor fair returns Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At 10 a.m., Brendan Oien brings his chainsaw carving to the fairgrounds for a different type of artistry.
During Saturday morning, the fairgrounds — or at least part of it — will become a real zoo.
The Great Plains Zoomobile from Sioux Falls will visit from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday with animals for display (and possibly petting). The Zoomobile combines enjoyment and education for all ages.
Also from 10 a.m. to noon, the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer will be on the fairgrounds. The officer works with outreach efforts to prevent drug use.
Other morning events include face painting from 10 a.m. to noon, open class baking check-in starting at 10:30 a.m. and laser tag from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Speak up! The 4-H public presentations start at 12:30 p.m. The entries can range from demonstrations of doing or making something to an explanation of a project to public speaking on a topic. The 4-Hers not only present information but also gain speaking skills and learning to handle themselves in front of an audience.
The annual round robin returns Saturday afternoon, once again featuring invited guests competing in livestock showmanship and a quiz about the critters, Doty said. However, this year’s event — which begins at 1 p.m. — will feature a different look.
“In the past, we had the celebrity round robin with people from the area,” she said. “This year, we’re having an alumni round robin. The Junior Leaders are asking back 4-H alumni for it.”
Saturday afternoon concludes with bingo from 1:30-3 p.m. and the 4-H round robin championship showmanship.
One thing won’t be part of this year’s fair — a mask mandate.
The South Dakota Board of Regents lifted the mask mandate last May and sent the change to the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service, which includes the Yankton County office and fair.
“Masks aren’t required at our county fair, but we’ll still practice social distancing, and people can wear masks if they want,” Doty said.
McFarland emphasized the importance of public turnout to view and encourage the 4-Hers’ efforts.
“The 4-Hers have put a lot of hours into each project, whether it’s livestock or a painting. For many of them, these are the things they do best,” she said. “It’s important for people to come see their work and appreciate everything put into it. The kids feed off the energy and the support they get from those in attendance (at the fair).”
Some project areas have grown in recent years, Doty said.
“The sheep, goats and poultry have really taken off and look to have large numbers again. We do have ducks and pigeons, too,” she said. “We still have our larger livestock, but the smaller animals are gaining in popularity because they are less expensive to raise and take up less room.”
The exhibits show 4-H isn’t limited to cattle and crops, Doty said. Today’s member can pursue any interest and find a niche for it at the fair.
“We also have many entries in the constructed and selected outfits, foods and nutrition, visual arts, home environment and photography,” she said.
4-Hers can enter an unlimited number of projects at the county level but only take a maximum of 12 to the state fair, Doty said. Because of the pandemic, 4-Hers can enter a project from last year if improvements are made on it.
“Otherwise, they are to create and enter new projects,” she said. “It’s a new year and new projects.”
Doty looks for an upturn in the number of entries.
“Our number of entries was down last year because of the pandemic. I think we’ll see more entries this year,” she said. “With this year’s return of a normal fair, the kids are all ready for it.”
Follow @RDockendorf on Twitter.