Change To Fair Format Will ‘Open’ Up Categories

Heather Maier entered this photo, which was the Youth Open Class winner in 2018. The open class division will be expanded this year for the Yankton County Fair, part of the larger plan for more events and attracting a wider audience for the Aug. 1-3 event in Yankton.

If you have an artistic eye or a green thumb, the Yankton County Fair — formerly Achievement Days — wants you.

The Aug. 1-3 event, held at the Pine Acres fairgrounds in Yankton, has been changed to a fair format. As part of the change, the open class division will play a larger role.

“I think it will draw more people, both those who want to enter open class and those who want to see the exhibits,” said Katie Doty, the Yankton County 4-H youth development director.

Cheri Maier will again work with the photography department, while Cindy Nelsen will work with the new horticulture and floriculture divisions.

Maier and Nelsen came forward with suggestions for expanding the open class division, according to Danielle McFarland, the Yankton County Extension administrative assistant.

“These ladies have taken it another step,” McFarland said. “They wanted to (add more categories), and the leaders association said to go for it. They’re hoping it brings more people, which is good for us.”

The expanded open class will bring other changes to the annual event, Doty said. In the past, the photography open class exhibits were displayed in a side room. Now, the entries will gain a more prominent place with greater visibility.

“With us expanding to three divisions, a portion of the ice arena (next to the 4-H area) will be set aside for the open class exhibits,” she said. “The livestock pens and activities that were in the ice arena will be moved to other parts of the fairgrounds.”

The ice arena will feature not only the open class exhibits but also a vendor fair, McFarland said.

“Along with the other changes, I think it will make for a better fair,” she said.


Maier has worked with the photography program for four years. She has conducted photography workshops for 4-Hers and has organized the open class division at past Yankton County 4-H Achievement Days.

“We’ve seen a good number and quality of entries,” she said. “This year, we’ve added a couple of different classes. We changed the prizes and divisions, and we’ve separated the age divisions into youth (18 or below) and adult.”

The open division places no limits on number of entries or who can enter, Maier said.

“You don’t need to be a Yankton County resident to enter our open class,” she said. “And the youth can enter the same projects for both 4-H and open class.”

Maier said she has remained impressed by the open class entries each year, including the young photographers.

“Kids have some great ideas,” she said. “I deal with entries at the state level, so I see quite a bit of photography and some real talent.”

The open class photos must be submitted to the Extension office in Yankton by 5 p.m. July 26, Maier said. “We’re judging that weekend, and then we’ll start getting the displays ready for the fair.”

The contest will offer different divisions for color and for black and white. The categories include the following:

• Scenic: townscapes, nightscapes, skyscapes, sunrises, sunsets, waterscapes and landscapes;

• People: posed portraits, candid photos and action photos of one or more people;

• Animals and birds: pets, farm animals, zoo animals, wild animals, birds, insects, fish or marine animals;

• Plants and flowers: growing plants, trees, fungi, farm crop, wild or domestic;

• Architectural: buildings, bridges, man-made structures, dams or towers;

• Yankton County’s Hidden Beauty;

• Military or Patriotic;

• Other categories than named;

• Special Techniques (photos obviously photo-shopped and edited for content beyond normal straight-out-of-the camera photographs).

When it comes to the other two open class divisions, Nelsen brings a background from running a commercial gardening operation. The new divisions for horticulture and floriculture could bring some interesting entries, she said.

“I think, with the change to a fair, we needed more things that would attract people,” she said. “I have judged in other counties in the past, and they have had horticulture and floriculture. Those were two areas where we could have an expansion.”

The horticulture and floriculture exhibits will be entered from 5-6 p.m. Aug. 1, Nelsen said. “I expect we’ll start judging shortly after 6 p.m.,” she added.

Nelsen generally defines horticulture as fruits and vegetables, while floriculture deals with flowers. For the upcoming open division competition, many categories exist within those two broad divisions, she said.

The floriculture division includes cut flowers, arrangements, house and flowering plants, potted plants foliage, succulents, collection of plants and dried flowers.

In the floriculture competition, all exhibits must be real flowers, vines and/or plants. No artificial material is allowed.

Some categories may not be as familiar to local growers and fair visitors, Nelsen said.

“Succulents include cactus or other plants that don’t need a lot of water,” she said. “We also have categories for dried flowers and herbs.”

The horticulture division includes garden vegetables and fruits, heirloom vegetables and herbs.

Each class contains a number of lots. The garden vegetables and fruits include apples, snap beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplants, honeydew melons, kohlrabi, onions, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon, novelty vegetables and more.

The heirloom vegetables include beans, carrots, corn, potatoes and tomatoes. The herbs include single plants and kitchen collections.

Despite the challenging spring and summer weather, Nelsen looks for possibly a good number of entries.

“I think the regular home gardener who was able to get started will have something, but it may not be coming in normally,” she said.


There is a $2 entry fee for adults and a $1 fee for youth. Rosettes will be given to Best in Show adult and youth. Ribbons will be given to first, second and third place in each class. There will also be cash prizes awarded to first, second and third in each department.

For more specific details on the photography, floriculture and horticulture classes, stop at the Extension Office for a booklet.

For more information, contact Maier at 661-3325 or by email at, Nelsen at 661-7418 or or Doty at (605) 665-3387 or

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