State FFA Convention moves West River first time in history of organization
RAPID CITY, SD – For the first time in nearly 100 years the South Dakota State FFA Association annual convention will not be held in Brookings.
The 93rd South Dakota State FFA Convention will be April 11-13 in Rapid City. Events will take place at the Central States Fairgrounds, Kjerstad Events Center and Western Dakota Technical College.
FFA executive secretary Dani Herring says COVID-19 caused the 2020 convention to take place virtually and is also behind the move to Rapid City. She says with restrictions on social gatherings and outside visitors still in place on the South Dakota State University campus, the Association Board of Directors voted to move the convention last month (Jan. 22). Additionally, if case numbers spiked, Herring says there was a possibility the event would have to be canceled last-minute.
“We’re looking forward to being able to do it in person,” said Dani Herring, SD FFA executive secretary. “It’s difficult to replicate some FFA competitions virtually, she said, listing floriculture, milk quality judging and ag mechanics as a few examples. It’s also important for members to get the opportunity to network with other students, and experience being in a room with judges, she said.
The state convention in Rapid City will come with modifications due to COVID. Attendees will wear masks, and be limited to agriscience fair, proficiency award and scholarship winners, and district qualifying Career Development Events teams. Event sponsors will be welcome but distanced. There will be no student workshops, talent or choir performances.
There will be ticketed general sessions Monday evening and Tuesday morning to announce award winners and for the state officers to give their retiring addresses. FFA member receiving state degrees and star awards will get two additional parent tickets. The convention will also be broadcast through Connect Center 1 TV, and streamed virtually. The South Dakota FFA Foundation is still seeking industries to invest in the event and sponsor awards.
South Dakota FFA started in 1928, and since the beginning the state convention has taken place on the campus of what was then South Dakota State College. Only during World War II was the convention canceled because of gas rationing. “It’s a big move,” Herring said.
“We pride ourselves with being a hands-on organization, and we really wanted to provide an in-person convention,” Herring said. The South Dakota FFA Association Board of Directors voted at their meeting Jan. 22 to hold the convention in Rapid City.