South Dakota State Fair



The South Dakota State Fair (the Fair) was about to embark on a significant change to a very old tradition by reducing the Fair from ten days to five. Because the Fair is partially funded through the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, every turn was scrutinized by the media and fueled by public comment wanting to control how their tax dollars were spent. As a result, the Fair was consumed by negative press, which resulted in comments as serious as pulling funding and ending the 100 year tradition.


Since the conversation was fueled by the press, we embarked on a massive public relations and media endorsement effort.


RSA set up a media blitz and accompanied the Fair manager on a personal visit to every major media outlet within the state. During this junket, we not only provided valuable information to the media, but we also addressed the elephant in the room head on and asked what it would take to gain their support and positive reporting of the State Fair. As a result, we found the policies of the fairgrounds made it almost impossible for the media to attend, and subsequently report on the activities.

RSA Media Team at the South Dakota State Fair.

With this information, we opened a media center on the fairgrounds staffed by RSA. This hospitality center catered to the needs of television, radio, and newspaper reporters. It was equipped with computers, internet, private interview rooms, and on-site parking. We provided escorts to take reporters throughout the grounds on golf carts and set up interviews with fair staff, entertainers, promoters, vendors, 4-H participants, and fair commissioners. This allowed us to redirect media coverage to focus on the many positive aspect of the Fair, and provided a venue to release stats of attendance and income and discredit the rumors of excessive deficit.

As a follow up, RSA sent every media personnel that came on ground a personal thank-you note and box of chocolates. It has proven to be a strategic move that paid off, and we continue to mentor and benefit from the relationships we worked so diligently to build. RSA was also instrumental in promoting the new 5-day-fair as a positive choice as opposed to a negative outcome. Through the proper message, slogan and jingle, “We’re Still the One”, became the fair theme and message for three consecutive years.


RSA has been developing creative campaigns and producing outstanding results for the South Dakota State Fair since 2011. We took them from a dwindling fair with decreasing attendance and rumors of closing, to a successful fair with increased attendance every year. Over the years, we have conducted surveys to discover what brings people to the fair, as well as learn where they come from, to help us target our advertising in the most efficient way possible. To date, we are proud to report a 40% increase in attendance since our first year with the South Dakota State Fair, while operating with 65% of the marketing and advertising budget used prior to our arrival.

Media Passes

Sew It, Grow It, Show It!

Thrills, Squeals, and Ferris Wheels.

South Dakota State Fair - Seriously Twisted Fun!

What Does The Fair Say?

In the Mood For Fun!

SDSF Event Guide.

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