Fair is on with no bull riding

Ron Burtz
The coronavirus pandemic will mean some significant changes for this year’s Custer County Fair, but at least the August event in Hermosa is going forward. At a meeting held May 12, the Custer County Fair Board voted to schedule the fair for Aug. 6-9, but without the popular bull-riding event which has been a staple of the fair the last few years.
“People really enjoy it, so we felt bad about that, but they just didn’t think it was a wise financial decision,” said fair board secretary Connie Steen. “There’s a lot of expense that goes into it and not a lot of profit.”
Steen said, with the uncertainty about trying to comply with CDC guidelines in regard to seating spectators, the board believed it was wise to cancel the event rather than possibly go in the hole because of a smaller turnout. 
Fair board member and marketing point person Tif Robertson agreed with the board’s decision, citing the current economic situation as one of the reasons for the cancelation. 
“With the economy, they just didn’t feel comfortable asking sponsors,” she said. “I think it’s a good move. You just don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring.”
Another change is that the board won’t print its usual fair book with schedules, sponsor ads and other information. 
“Because you’d have to do that now and things could change,” said Steen.
Another alteration to this year’s fair schedule, not necessarily related to the virus situation, is that the beef, sheep and swine shows will be moved from Saturday to Friday.  
“They said it was just a long day for kids who show multiple species,” said Steen.
Members of the fair board are contacting sponsors for the pancake feed and barbecue supper now in hopes those community events can go forward as usual, said Steen. 
“We hope to do everything pretty much the same other than the bull riding,” she said. 
Robertson, who also sits on the board of the Central States Fair held in Rapid City, said that body is moving “full speed ahead” on plans for the August event and says she encouraged Custer County to put the event on the calendar in hopes things will settle down by late summer. 
“This is a key community Custer County event for the economic impact for Hermosa and our surrounding communities for the ranchers and everybody who’s been working hard all summer to come out and see each other,” said Robertson. “We look forward to putting on a fair and bring some entertainment and some camaraderie and be able to kick off the fall season.” 
Robertson said she is working on a marketing plan for the fair. With the fair book off the table, she said she is considering sending postcards to potential fair-goers which would list some of the key events. 
She said she will have more information after the fair board meets in June. 

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