Longtime South Dakota state fair attendee celebrates 75 years of memories

South Dakota News

CORSICA, S.D. (KELO) — For many, the state fair is about the exhibits, rides, food and fun times with friends and family. For 82-year-old Harley DeVelder, the memories he’s made attending the South Dakota State Fair stretch back for decades.

“Well, we tried to hit about every building we did,” he said. “We bought a few odds and ends there once in a while. Some stuff that you never see any place and it was just a fun day.”

DeVelder and his wife Joan chose not to attend the state fair this year because of COVID-19. He hasn’t missed the event since the beginning of his time in grade school.

“It was suggested that I go there and buy a ticket and walk through the gate and turn around and come back today,” he said.

But he didn’t think that was necessary. Instead, he remembers all the memories made with family each year, including his first speeding ticket on the way there.

“We got out of here too late in the morning,” DeVelder said. “I don’t know what happened but we were late. Kids had something to do with 4-H. You know the rest of the story.”

“His excuse all day long is that he was going down a hill and he didn’t have cruise control and so he wouldn’t have been speeding had he not been going down that hill, but he was mad all day,” DeVelder’s daughter Connie Schaffer said.

DeVelder grew up on a farm near Corsica, South Dakota and has lived there since 1941. They would drive to the fair for one or two days but had to make sure chores got done.

“We milked cows basically all of our life up until about 15 years ago,” DeVelder said. “We always had a bunch of beef cattle, fed cattle, raised corn, soybeans, small grain.”

The fair was a day of celebration for his family, but they had to work for it.

“On a farm, you rarely stop everything, but we stopped everything for the fair,” Schaffer said. “Although, my younger sister remembers one year that my mom made us take buckets of green beans from the garden and we had to clean the green beans on the way to the fair so that we could can them the next day when we got home.”

Schmidt: “Are you going to be back there next year?”

DeVelder: “Well, if I’m around and there’s no virus, I’ll maybe be there.”

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