First of 12 public meetings discussing the future of the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds is Friday

Residents are enouraged to attend and offer input. A member of the Lyon family will present.

The south entrance to the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls.
Barry Amundson / For Sioux Falls Live

SIOUX FALLS — A dozen public meetings about the future of the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls kick off at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 19, next to the Minnehaha County Commission meeting room.

The 90-minute meeting will be conducted by a 15-member task force appointed last spring to study what can be done with the aging fairgrounds that have been in the current location for about 80 years.

County Commission Administrator Carol Muller said a “variety of topics” will be discussed at each meeting which will be held in the coming six weeks and conducted during the lunch hour to allow residents to more easily attend.

Scott Axtell, a member of the William and Winona Lyon family who donated the land for the fairgrounds around 1940, will be speaking at the first meeting and talking about the history of the family and the gift.

Also a consulting firm has completed an economic impact study of the fairgrounds that will be part of the discussion.


The county is hoping to find a way to make improvements to the site which holds the Sioux Empire Fair every August and is also the site of many other activities at various locations and buildings on the grounds..

Muller said an offer from Knife River Corporation to buy the fairgrounds to mine the quartzite thought to be prevalent under the fairgrounds is not part of this discussion. However, she said it likely would be raised at the task force’s working group meetings.

The $65 million proposal was made last year by Knife River, a building materials company that currently mines across the road from the fairgrounds. At the time, there was some support offered for the idea, but Muller said there would be several hurdles to be made before any bids or offers could even be considered. She said currently there is no official offer.

For now the task force is focusing on ways to improve the fairgrounds to attract more events and people, said Muller.

A final report with suggestions for the fairgrounds future is expected to be given to the county commissioners in March.

The public is invited to attend the task force meetings and she said there likely will be time for comments to be accepted.

What To Read Next
Get Local