Funding the State Fair

The push for continued justification of South Dakota’s annual State Fair subsidy has begun. Here’s the general idea:

“The boost in business is tremendous, and boost to the economy here in Huron is just fantastic,” Manolis said.
Officials say last year’s fair had a $3.5 million economic impact on the Huron area.

Last year South Dakota spent about $750,000 on the state fair subsidy. This year, based on past-due budget cuts, the funding was cut about in half.

Of course the people coming to the area are good for the local economy. Of course the local businesses look to this annual event to help them make enough to stay in business for another year (not unlike many Sturgis businesses). Of course, if one looks at the math which we’ll all be hearing about “Hey, we spent $750,000 and got back $3,500,0000–that’s a pretty good investment.”

Yes, that is a pretty good investment . . . if the state were in the investment business. You see, that initial money came from all the people in the state who pay taxes (taxpayers). Those who benefited? A subset of the people in the state who pay taxes.

Propping up the state fair perpetuates an inequity for those same taxpayers. If the fair brings such money to the area, then perhaps it is not beyond reason to suggest that the vendors, etc who benefit should have a financial stake in the fair. That way, if they do their job and bring in the people, the funds are there to do it again next year. If they don’t bring in the people, then it may well be that the fair is no longer a sustainable South Dakota summertime event–as sad as that may be.