Businessman donates $1M to new 4-H hall at fair

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A wealthy Huron businessman gave the South Dakota State Fairgrounds on Tuesday a quarter of the amount needed to build a nearly 47,000-square-foot $4 million exhibit hall.

The South Dakota State Fair Foundation announced that Earl Nordby, who made his money in the soft-drink bottling industry, has donated $1 million for the hall, which mainly will be used to host 4-H events during the state fair every summer. Officials also hope to attract artists, flea markets and trade shows to rent the space throughout the year as means to generate revenue.

Nordby could not immediately be reached on Tuesday. He's also given multiple donations to higher education, recreational facilities and health care efforts in South Dakota. In 2011, Gov. Daugaard proclaimed May 6 as Earl Nordby Day.

"The donation was very helpful in getting this project of the ground; it enabled us to jumpstart the campaign," fair manager Jerome Hertel said.

The campaign has raised more than $2.2 million, including Nordby's donation. The hall — which will feature multiple classrooms, a large kitchen for 4-H food competitions, year-round concessions and a performance stage — will bear the donor's name.

Officials are currently negotiating a contract with an architect and hope to break ground in the spring of 2015. The building is expected to be finished in time for the 2015 fair.

"Throughout his life, Mr. Nordby has been a generous contributor to the state fair, monetarily and personally," Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch said in a statement. "He has helped the fair achieve its mission in creating a successful, family friendly venue that showcases youth and community achievement."

Clover Hall, which was built in the 1950s, was demolished after last year's fair. Jerome said the building had serious plumbing issues and water damage, with only a third of the facility hosting events because the rest of the space was unusable.

This year's five-day fair will run from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1. The 4-H competitions will be scattered around the grounds, including the National Guard armory.

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