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State Fair: An annual competitive and recreational gathering, usually held in late summer or early fall. It is a larger version of a county fair, often including only exhibits or competitors that have won in their categories at the county fairs. – Wikipedia

If it’s hot at this year’s State Fair, which opens Thursday, the candidates in the political tent likely will be wearing shorts and T-shirts promoting their skills.

Even if it’s cooler, the attire will be the same: casual.

Picture, if you can, Karl Mundt or Ben Reifel or George McGovern in such attire at the State Fair.

Conjures up an interesting image, doesn’t it?

Back in the day, my grandfather never missed stopping in to see the politicians at the fair and if it was hot, as it often was, the men (there were no women candidates) would shed their suit jackets.

If it was really hot, they would roll up their sleeves and loosen their ties.

I plan on making the trip again this year and hope to persuade some of our grandkids to make the journey with us.

Some things never change, which is appealing to me. Since 1905, the fair has been held in Huron after bouncing around to different locations since its inception in 1885. On reflection, Huron likely wishes it had fought for a state university or the state Capitol instead of the State Fair. It would have provided more financial stability.

Over the years, the State Fair has faced stiff competition from the Central States Fair in Rapid City and the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls, which siphon off fair-goers from the west and east ends of the state.

And then, 23 years ago, Dakotafest sprung up in Mitchell, compounding the challenge. This did not go unnoticed in Huron, either by State Fair officials or Huron residents.

On opening day of the fair, probably in 1997, I parked our car in a residential area west of the entrance gates. As we got out of the car, a man working in his yard looked at me disdainfully after noticing my Davison County license plate.

“Why bother to come to the fair?” he said, spitting out the words. “Now that you’ve got that Dakotafest or whatever it is they call it down there.”

To my mild surprise, the windshield was still intact on our return later that afternoon.

It’s true that Sherwin Linton and the Cotton Kings have been coming to the fair almost as long as I have, but that’s what warms my heart. He’ll be there again this year.

I’m not knocking Toby Keith, Friday’s headliner, but my grandkids (heh, heh) can’t stay up that late.

Aug. 29, 2018