But the rest of you made up for my cheapskatery: the Department of Revenue reports that tax collections at this year’s State Fair beat last year’s by 9.4%:
Tax collections at the 2017 South Dakota State Fair exceeded $191,000 according to figures released by the South Dakota Department of Revenue.
The latest numbers from the five-day fair in Huron, S.D., showed $191,149 in total tax collections–an increase compared to last year’s total of $174,652. The 2017 fair featured 433 temporary vendors, while 2016’s count was 427.
Of the tax collected, $99,610 was state sales tax, $32,969 was state tourism tax and $58,570 was Huron’s municipal sales tax [Department of Revenue, press release, 2017.09.18].
DOR says sales taxes are still coming in and estimates the final tally will be 5% over last year’s.
The State Fair generated about $38,000 in taxes per day over its five-day run. Over a ten-day run, this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally generated $126,000 in taxes from vendors per day. The State Fair, obviously, draws a more fiscally conservative audience, mostly local folks who come for a day to look at pigs and tractors and think hard before spending $45 for Lynryd Skynyrd. The Rally draws thousands of multi-day vacationers who have already demonstrated their willingness to spend extravagantly by paying far more than necessary on a non-essential, seasonal mode of transportation that they haul all the way to Sturgis in a trailer. The Sturgis Rally also has a far greater market for its wares: customers nationwide brag up their Sturgis attendance with Rally t-shirts and patches, while I have yet to spot a regular Fair goer sporting a jacket (probably denim for the Fair, not leather) festooned with commemorative patches from each year she has attended…
…which, now that I think of it, actually sounds kind of cool. State Fair Commission! Think about the marketing possibilities!
As I mentioned, I didn’t take a lot of pictures at the South Dakota State Fair because I spent a lot more time listening to my fellow South Dakotans. Here’s a random assortment of interesting things I heard in those midway conversations (to protect the innocent, I will use no names):
Post-Janklow Stress Disorder: A fellow member of the Resistance recalled a training session for activists where an experienced out-of-state organizer talked about a variety of practical and effective community organizing activities. My compatriot said the activities sounded great but told the organizer that they wouldn’t fly here in South Dakota many public and private employees are still politically paralyzed by the Janklow-era fear that engaging in visible political activism to challenge the status quo will cost them their jobs. (My compatriot has tried organizing various actions and encountered that fear directly.) The out-of-state organizer, who has organized in many states, said this fear seems unique to, or at least uniquely intense in, South Dakota, as if the entire state is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder..
Land of Activist Opportunity: Having moved to South Dakota only a few years ago, this same activist friend doesn’t suffer PJSD. This activist friend recognizes that progressive activism might make more progress in another state but wants to stay here and fight. This friend comes from a larger city in a larger state—back home, people are already doing the necessary activism and don’t really need this friend’s help. Here in South Dakota, anyone who wants to help fight for truth and justice can walk right into a meeting and start organizing.
Soybeans, Dicamba, and Monsanto: A farmer read my post on possible herbicide drift from new dicamba products and stopped by specifically to talk to me about his experience. He said he planted Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant soybeans and applied the new dicamba herbicide this year. He said so far the beans look like the best he’s ever planted, but some of his neighbors say they’ve seen some of the signs of dicamba drift in their fields. He said one problem with identifying the cause of the apparent crop damage is that some of the possible drift areas don’t show the usual wind-driven patterns of damage that come from drift.
This farmer explained an interesting chemistry point to me. The concern with this new dicamba product is not that the wind comes up and sweeps the herbicide across the road to the neighbors’ fields right after application. Rather, if the temperature gets warm enough, the dicamba droplets turn from liquid to gas and can travel much more easily to other fields.
This farmer said his beef lies with Monsanto’s claim that if drift is happening, it’s probably farmers’ fault for not following the lengthy instructions on the dicamba labels. This farmer says he read the instructions provided online, attended training sessions produced by Monsanto and the Extension Service, and applied the herbicide exactly as instructed and still has reports of possible drift around his fields. If the new dicamba product is responsible for neighboring crop damage, this farmer doubts that operator error is a primary explanation.
How to Beat CAFOs—Don’t Say “CAFO”? A Grant County friend says Turner County voters’ rejection of CAFO-friendly zoning revisions and her own experience suggest that if we want to keep factory feedlots from expanding, we won’t win by focusing on the environmental destruction CAFOs cause. Instead, mega-manure opponents need to focus on issues of property rights and local control: the Mickelson/factory-meat push seeks to remove the ability of local voters and taxpayers to get notice of new industrial developments that can impact their property values and have a say in their own zoning decisions.
A friend stopped by with her daughter, who’s showing pigs. This friend follows the blog, but we’re pretty sure that the last time we talked face to face was 30 years ago, right there on the Fairgrounds, just a block away, where we performed together on the Freedom Stage in the 4-H Performing Arts Troupe.
An acquaintance who knows of the blog told me he’s considering a career change and might like to work for the Republicans. Contrary to every impulse that should arise when I hear someone is considering leaping into the fiery pits of Hell, I did not try to dissuade this reader; I just listened to this reader’s assessment of his professional and personal situation and said what I could to help him weigh the options. (I didn’t mention this at the time, but another correspondent suggested that working for a Liz May for Governor campaign could be fun.)
An experienced politico talked about writing and the importance of framing our ideas and policy arguments in everyday, personal terms that people can relate to. I know, there may be only ten people in this state who can relate to sitting on the Fair midway and talking about writing… but hey! you other eight! You’re my kind of people. (That reminds me of my first unchaperoned date with a young woman who came with me to the Prairie Village Steam Threshing Jamboree and stood in the flea market/concessions area talking with me about E-Prime. Three and a half months later, we were engaged to be married.)
Not really a conversation, but a bit of luck: A fellow Democratic warrior was trying to get his computer to talk to the TV in the Democratic Building. He started to explain the problem; I just reached over and switched the TV off, then back on. Immediately the computer display flashed up onto the TV. When in doubt, reboot first! Now if only I could find that magic power switch for the Democratic Party….
Most of the time, especially once the early showers ended and the sun brought the crowds out, I was too busy with conversations to take pictures or Tweet. (We can swim in our screens anytime; the Fair is once a year.) But here is a little bit of what I saw and digitized:
Coming down from U.S. 212 on Highway 37, I saw four Jackley for Governor signs and, closest to Huron, one Krebs for Congress sign. Jackley’s signs were the standard 4×8 plywood, with nothing but text and his name spanning the sign. Krebs’s sign looked to be maybe half that size, with her last name in too thin sans-serif font, slogan in script font, and picture with website in too small font all crammed together. If I didn’t already know who she was, that sign that far from speeding drivers might not have told me.
Petitioners aplenty were working the Fair. The South Dakota Democratic Party has apparently endorsed the retry on independent redistricting and has that petition at its building on the midway. Three other petition booths have popped up on Third Street on the Fairgrounds:
Represent SD had its IM22-redux petition out to give voters a chance to rectify the Legislature’s nullification of their 2016 vote to reform campaign finance and ethics laws. That canopy is new; Represent SD upgraded their table outside the Horticulture Building after the morning rains put a damper on their circulation efforts.
Represent SD and Team Mickelson both have paid circulators and substantial cash behind them. But they still don’t have as cool or tricked-out of a booth as New Approach South Dakota:
Melissa Mentele has three petitions at her booth—“Death with Dignity”/assisted suicide, medical marijuana, and recreational marijuana. Her volunteers (she told me she had thirty coming over the weekend) are all trained to keep track of their clipboards and remove them from the table if they step away for a break to prevent any mingling of circulators on individual sheets who could foul the circulator’s witness oath.
Along with petitions and flags, New Approach also has loot. They are selling cookbooks (all legal recipes!) and Avon bug repellent. No reliable word on whether medical or recreational marijuana will keep mosquitoes away.
Dakota Free Press gained an exclusive look at the New Approach SD back office, the tent behind their tent, which features a computer for checking voter data and tabbing signatures, a printer for generating more petition sheets, and a stove for high-octane circulator fuel. New Approach SD was the only ballot question team I saw on the Fairgrounds with a complete mobile office. Very organized, very professional.
If these professional Nevada petition consultants had their employees circulating petitions at the Fair, I didn’t see them. Circulators carrying the independent redistricting and open primary petitions were working people outside the gates on both sides of the Fairgrounds. Mentele tells me those circulators had a booth Thursday but got booted from the Fairgrounds for carrying their petitions around the Fairgrounds. Apparently if you don’t pay, you have no say. If that’s the case, I look forward to seeing the Fair officials applying the same thinking to candidates and expelling candidates who dare exercise their annulled First Amendment rights by working the crowds outside their booths and dispatching volunteers to walk around advertising their campaigns with t-shirts, bags, and other swag.
I didn’t go looking for livestock, but I did find Merlin the tortoise hanging out in the Horticulture Building… or is that Tortoiculture? Merlin is a fourteen-year-old African desert tortoise who lives with the Cindy Eilers family. He may live to be 120… if he survives all the petting.
Merlin was guarding the best hay bales in the state.
Merlin was wishing he was over by the veggie table. Out of his envy of my freedom to walk around among such goodies, he apparently hit with a punning spell:
Once recovered from that outburst, I checked out the 4-H art displays.
Google stained glass—a 21st-century tech giant represented in an ancient art form—thought-provoking.
Out in the equipment, I learned that a New Holland sprayer will clear my head by five inches (as measured by my new purple De Smet Farm Mutual yardstick, the most popular measuring device in South Dakota this long weekend). I’ve wondered about that possibility while out bicycling on country roads… but watch out for those undercarriage handles!
The Dakotaland Museum features this old Fair menu from the Baltimore Lunch Room. I didn’t see a year on it, though I’m pretty sure it’s pre-Depression, probably a hundred years old. Once upon a time, I could have gotten corned-beef hash for ten cents.
Alas, there was no ten-cent corned-beef hash, so I left around suppertime. It had rained on the way down and rained again over the lunch hour, but the clouds surrendered to the kind of sunshining, summer-closing Friday evening that should make any South Dakotan want to go for a long walk along the quiet railroad tracks.
I got discount donuts and pop at Fair City Foods and headed home. I think I followed Marty Jackley in his state car out of town. West on 14 out to 281, I saw one Krebs sign and two Jackley signs.