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Fun at the fairs

I spent a few hours at the Lyon County Fair last Friday while Ross had rehearsal for this weekend’s Shakespeare performance of “The Merchant of Venice.” I like to watch rodeo, and so I took the opportunity Friday night to catch some of the action.

The clouds threatened rain for most of the evening, and it started to drop a little bit before the auction and raffle winner announcements. It wasn’t necessarily a torrential downpour, but it was enough to where I didn’t really want to stand around outside. Plus, I was getting a bit hungry. I buzzed around the 4-H building, taking another look at some of the arts projects and photography, etc. It’s cool to see some of the creative things the kids come up with. Makes me wish I had participated in 4-H. Hopefully I would’ve come up with something to show off.

I got a text from Ross a little after 9 p.m. saying that he made it to the fairgrounds. I was waiting for him in front of the Holy Redeemer food stand. I caught a glimpse of him as he arrived, and in my hurry to not lose him in the crowd, I managed to stumble and trip into the gravel in front of the food stand. I said to the folks who witnessed my fall, “you didn’t see that, right?” I was a tad embarrassed to say the least. I turned my left ankle, skinned my left knee and hit my left elbow. I guess I was excited to see him or I just needed to eat food. So I limped to the counter, and we ordered dinner. My ankle is currently a lovely shade of purple.

After eating, we wandered around the fairgrounds as the sounds of IV-Play and music from the midway filled the air. We mainly looked at the goats, rabbits, poultry and horses before Ross felt it was time for him to head home (he works early in the mornings).

The next day I suggested going to the Sioux Empire Fair. It was the last day of its run, and I have never been there. Now was my chance.

We’ve been to the fairgrounds in Sioux Falls before for the Siouxland Renaissance Festival, but we didn’t really know what was where. We actually kind of winged it. I had mentioned to Ross that the Sioux Valley Model Engineers Society building had the state’s largest permanent model railroad layout. He’s a bit of a train geek, so I figured it would be up his alley. But our first stop was finding lunch. The midway had plenty of options, but honestly nothing really jumped out at me. Ross got a pork tenderloin sandwich combo, while I got a small corn dog and pop. I also ate quite a few of his french fries.

Then we went to the model train display. According to its website, the Sioux Valley Engineers Society was formed in 1948. “In 1964, the Sioux Empire Fair Board invited the Society to build a layout in one of their buildings at the Fairgrounds,” the website said. The layout was dismantled three years later for fair program expansion. “The Club members set out immediately to construct the present building where this layout is displayed. After a major expansion and rebuilding project in the ’80s and ’90s, the layout has gradually evolved into what you see today.” The display was impressive, with Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument in the background. There were different city scenes, including a few fast food restaurants like KFC, Burger King and a Dairy Queen. There was even a Red Owl. One side had a circus scene, and one of the trains was also carrying a circus. You could press a button for “fireworks” over Mount Rushmore.

We also explored the Pioneer Lane buildings, which included an Episcopalian church and a country school.

It was onto the rest of the fairgrounds, which included open class projects, the Pipestone Discovery Barn, 4-H projects, music, sharing a strawberry malt and the petting zoo. We spent maybe around three or so hours at the fair when Ross said he was a little “faired out.” We don’t really go on the rides and we kinda exhausted most of the buildings and displays, so it was time to head out.

At least it turned out to be a decent day at the fair weather-wise.

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