A Decision not Taken Lightly

The Fair Board, Staff, and countless key people, both from the community and those that make Brown County their home for fair week, have been working, planning and evaluating the outlook of 2020 Brown County Fair since COVID-19 hit the state's radar in March. We have run through the who, what, where, when, why and hows that any event would ask itself under a normal year, but we have had to add a few more to that list this year. There are good reasons to try and push forward to have the event, but unfortunately, there are more reasons that have led us to the challenging decision to postpone the Brown County Fair until 2021.

There have been many conversations with dozens of partners. A rollercoaster of information has been received. There have been many emotions as these difficult decisions were being made. Do we cut? What do we cut? Can we run without X or Y or Z? The Brown County Fair has a large number of moving parts that all need to work together to make The Brown County Fair the memory maker we all love. If all of the moving parts don’t move smoothly in the same direction, it’s a big problem.

There are many organizations and partners depending on each other to move full steam ahead to carry out the Brown County Fair. It takes exhibitors, entertainers, contestants, carnival providers, sound and light companies, equipment providers, vendors,  concessionaires, sanitation crews, staff, board members, key volunteers, an army of shift volunteers, and many organizations to carry out the major aspects of the fair. We can’t forget about you the fan, we can’t do it without all of you.

It doesn’t take a drop to zero participants to impact severely the success for the Brown County Fair. Our greatest assets, free parking, no gate admission, and a small army of volunteers, is also a very big reason for the unknown. The other major hurdle is the health and safety of many of our volunteers and fair participants, especially those in the vulnerable population groups. Most of the volunteers that help this amazing event are in those very same groups.

Another aspect that weighed heavily is the financial responsibility to the taxpayer. The Brown County Fair is funded by taxpayer dollars. The fair has been fortunate over the last number of years and has not cost the taxpayers any money including the salary and benefits for paid staff.

This was a decision that will have a big impact and was not taken lightly. Some will grieve the decision and others will celebrate it. This isn’t a time to further divide the community about how some were right or some were wrong. The Brown County Fair is a community event and celebration. It has to work for all of Brown County; not just certain groups, age ranges, affiliations, or the loudest voices in the room.

We know from those in the public field that this will be with us for the foreseeable future, what we don’t know is how long that foreseeable future is. If we had a crystal ball and could see the future, we would be able to absolutely make the right decision no matter which way was right. Unfortunately we don’t. We have to make the best-educated decision with the information we have at the time and to think about the future and the ability for Brown County to fund future Brown County Fairs.

We appreciate everyone’s support over the years and it’s because of that support the Fair Board and Staff are working to make future fairs bigger and better, after all the Brown County Fair … It’s Kind of a Big Deal!

Answers to your Questions

Will I get a refund for my grandstand tickets?
We want to make it as easy as we can while giving you options. Campers, vendors, and sponsors will be receiving additional communication via mail or email. As a grandstand ticket holder you can:

  • Request a refund by calling (605) 626-7116 or emailing us at fair@browncounty.sd.gov.
  • Hold your tickets for next year’s events. They will still be valid as the same grandstand line-up will be returning.


What if I lose my tickets between now and next year?
Don’t worry. Your tickets are stored in the ticketing system and can be sent to you next year.


How will camping work?
Again more flexibility.

  • You can request a refund
  • You can ask that your camping fees be rolled over to the 2021 Brown County Fair
  • You can camp as you intended. We will be working with the Fairground’s staff to help make this possible.


Will there be vendors during the scheduled fair week?
At this time because we are postponing the Brown County Fair, the vendors will be given the same flexibility as the campers and are entitled to a refund. We can’t state at this time if there will be any food vendors that will choose to be on site.


Will there be a carnival during the scheduled fair week?
While there will not be a carnival due to the postponement of the Brown County Fair, there are discussions for other events that are not the Brown County Fair. Check back for future details.


Are there any volunteer opportunities yet this year?
There may be some projects that we may be able to work on. We will have to look at those at a later date. There are always projects from April to October. Feel free to call the Brown County Fair office to inquire about current projects 605-626-7116.


How can I financially support the Brown County Fair this year?
You may choose to donate the price for tickets, camping or vendor space to the Brown County Treasurer’s General Fund which funds the Brown County Fair. Contact us and we will send you a form.


Can I join the Fair Board?
Yes! We always look for passionate people to give their time and talents to help, serve and work on the Brown County Fair Board. Check out more details here or call the office at 605-626-7116.


Can I volunteer for next year's Brown County Fair?
Yes! We are always looking for volunteers. It can be one day, one shift or a couple of hours. There are many ways to help, even community service hours for students & non-students.  inquire by calling the office or check back to our volunteer page.