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Pierre area losing Governor’s Pheasant Hunt

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The 2019 Governor’s Hunt will again be in the Pierre region. The 2020 governor’s pheasant hunt will be based out of Sioux Falls, and its vendors’ fair will be used as an “industry showcase for the nation.”

Governor Kristi Noem announced June 10, that the 2020 Governor’s Hunt and Sportsmen’s Showcase will be based out of the Sioux Falls Convention Center. In a news release, Noem stated, “I am deeply grateful to the landowners, community leaders, and business owners in and around Pierre who have built the foundation of success for the Governor’s Hunt. Thank you for your commitment to the tradition of this event over the years.” Yet, the traditional hunting event is being taken from the Capital city in the center of the state to its most densely populated city, in the far southeastern corner of the state.

“The Governor’s Hunt has always been to showcase South Dakota’s outstanding business climate to companies looking to expand in or relocate to South Dakota. It also gives us an opportunity to get these businesses in front of South Dakota business leaders, as well as leadership from state government,” said Kristin Wileman, press secretary for the governor’s office. “Repositioning the hunt to southeastern South Dakota in 2020 will allow us to continue this legacy while attracting more business prospects to the event. By adding a public sportsman industry vendor fair with booths from South Dakota hunting, fishing, firearms, and other sportsmen-related industries from around the country and a public concert at the Premiere Center, we will make this an even more memorable event for our guests.”

The planning and the subsequent announcement came over a year in advance for two reasons. “We wanted to be respectful of the Ramkota and other hotels in Pierre, so they weren’t turning away business. And secondly, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to put together a first-class event,” said Mary Lehecka Nelson, marketing and public relations director for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “Both the Ramkota and Mayor Harding (city of Pierre) were informed before the announcement was made public. We are proud of our Capitol city and will continue to look for ways to showcase it to business leaders, tourists and others,” Nelson said, adding, “The state is currently discussing options for a Pierre event.”

“The 2019 Governor’s Hunt will proceed in Pierre as planned. Governor Noem is deeply indebted to central South Dakota’s landowners, community leaders, and business owners for the years of successful Governor’s Hunts,” Wileman said. “At this point, we are not making any location commitments beyond 2020. We want to focus on making the hunt an amazing and accessible showcase of our hunting traditions and business culture.”

“Governor Noem and her team will continue to search for opportunities to showcase Pierre and the surrounding region in the future through new events. Pierre has a lot to offer in terms of hunting, fishing, history, and culture. We’re confident that in working with local leaders, we will develop a new marquee event for Pierre and central South Dakota,” said Wileman.

For the 2020 hunt, the only detail that has been finalized is securing the Convention Center. The rest is ongoing, said Nelson. Nelson added that the GOED does not pay for hunting licenses, hotels, etc., and that the impact of the governor’s hunt might be better estimated by the city of Pierre. Any estimated impact from the 2020 hunt would best come from the city of Sioux Falls.

In the 1950s, the hunt began with Governor Joe Foss, himself an avid hunter. The hunt was revived and expanded by Gov. Bill Janklow, a non-hunter, in the early 1980s to promote economic development and attract businesses from other states.

For the 2018 governor’s hunt, of the almost 600 invited guests — not counting landowners — who attended the hunt at one function or another, less than 400 actually hunted. They were joined by more than a 100 other hunters on the 32 teams, mainly including hosting landowners and their own guests. All together they harvested over 1,360 pheasants. They also attended banquets, where they were told what business advantages South Dakota has to offer. In a policy change from Gov. Rounds, Gov. Daugaard made public the names of almost 800 people who were originally invited to the hunt. Another 420-plus business prospects were invited, but those names were not released.

“Over the years, the Governor’s Hunt has brought thousands of business leaders to our state to experience both our pheasant habitat and our business habitat,” said Noem. “By easing accessibility and expanding opportunity at this event, we’ll be able to introduce more people to everything South Dakota has to offer. We’re transforming this annual summit into an industry showcase for the nation.”

“The Governor’s Hunt has always been about celebrating not only one of South Dakota’s most cherished fall past times, but the strong support for business and economic growth that we foster among industry leaders, employees, and entrepreneurs,” said Steve Westra, commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “By repositioning this headline event to Sioux Falls, we will be able to attract more business prospects and vendors who may only have limited time to visit our great state. This is a win-win for the people of South Dakota and the businesses and industries looking to make our state their next home.”

Major events at the 2020 Governor’s Hunt and Sportsmen’s Showcase will include a public sportsman industry vendor fair with booths from South Dakota hunting, fishing, firearms, and other sportsmen-related industries from around the country; a banquet for state leaders and business prospects; a public concert at the Premier Center; and world-class pheasant hunting in southeastern South Dakota.