News from the Secretary

News from the Secretary by Larry Gabriel When does "fair" really mean "great?"

This is the one week out of the year when the word "fair" means something far above average in South Dakota.

If you think of the state fair as just 4-H, a carnival, and some food stands, you have another think coming.

If you have not been to "the fair" yet (assuming you read this on Thursday), you missed some things including: Gretchen Wilson and Martina McBride, two nights of rodeo, the Johnny Holm Band, a classic car show, Charley Pride and the 4-H barbeque.

Also, obviously your child did not catch the greased pig or win the stick horse race, nor did you win the bulls eye dart tournament, homemade pie contest, turkey calling contest, the beef cook-off contest, the impersonator contest, the cookies and bars contest, the pie eating contest, the mounted cowboy action shooting contest, the Miss State Fair pageant, the watermelon bowling competition or any of the five contests in ranch rodeo.

It is not too late. You can still make it to the Midwest Supercross motorcycle show on Friday, or any of four grandstand entertainment specials followed by the fireworks display on Saturday, when one ticket will get you in to see and hear Dustin Evans, Sugar Ray, Larry the Cable Guy, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

In addition to browsing hundreds of exhibits, you still have time to: visit the Dakotaland Museum, watch Native American dancers, tour the NASA exhibit, see live sharks, listen to Pam and Sherwin Linton, learn about Lewis and Clark, view antique tractors, see a one-room school, check out the EROS data imaging display, listen to the Great Pretenders, Eclipse or Heartland Tonettes sing, see a hypnotist show, participate in the "Honoring our Soldiers" ceremony or take in a whole host of other events and displays on Friday or Saturday.

There is still time for some contests including: hotdog eating contest, mother/daughter and father/son look-a-like contests, pumpkin decorating contest, cutest baby contest, auctioneers contest and the chili cook-off.

If you are brave enough, you can even eat the chili.

I don't have space in this forum to mention all the great entertainers, artists, performers, shows, events and contests in this year's State Fair. The daily event calendar fills 11 pages.

The fair is more than fun and games. Many of the exhibits and events are educational or teach practical skills, such as the computer training being offered by Southeast Technical Institute. Throughout the week staff from the state Department of Agriculture will provide information on a wide variety of subjects such as: government grants, ag loans, firefighting, forest and tree insect problems, dairy development, the Dakota Flavor© marketing project, livestock tracking and animal identification, honey production, financial counseling and mediation services provided by the department, lending services provided by the department, and a number of areas where our efforts never make the headlines.

For several months I have been asking you to meet me at the fair. Stop by Younger Hall and visit with us about how we can better serve the people of South Dakota. That's our real job.

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