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Legendary singer Sherwin Linton in his hometown of Hazel in 1975.
Legendary singer Sherwin Linton in his hometown of Hazel in 1975.

Our Fair Tour

Aug 24, 2015

South Dakotans wave farewell to summer with the colorful sights, delicious foods and dizzying rides at local or state fairs. This year South Dakota Magazine is travelling to some of our favorite fairs to celebrate the magazine's 30th anniversary.

We will visit with readers, serve Forestburg watermelon slices and soak up South Dakota's fair culture. Our schedule began with Parker's Turner County Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 19, then Rapid City's Central States Fair Aug. 21-22. Finally, we’ll visit the State Fair in Huron Sept. 6-7, where we will have the honor to be on stage with legendary performer Sherwin Linton. We won't be singing, but will have some good South Dakota stories for the audience.

Linton has performed for over 30 years at Huron, as well as other fairs around the country. Three times a day on the state fair's Centennial Stage, fans sit under tall shade trees and listen to Sherwin, his wife Pam and their longtime band "The Cotton Kings." Linton plays over 250 concerts a year and, amazingly, has never missed a performance in his 50-plus years of entertaining. His perfect attendance placed In the next issue of the magazine we recount a Sherwin Linton story that Bob Glanzer wrote in his new book, You Can't Unring a Bell. Glanzer helped plan and produce the state fair for 26 years and from 1980-2002 was the superintendent of the grandstand stage and show events. During his tenure he met Minnie Pearl, and confirms she was just as funny backstage as she was onstage. He drove Red Skelton to the Sioux Falls airport and was treated to two hours of stories and humor. Skelton bought him breakfast and tipped him $50 for the drive.

One story that stood out in Glanzer's mind was a meeting between Sherwin Linton and Johnny Cash. It was during the state fair's bicentennial year in 1976. Glanzer was standing backstage before Cash's performance. Cash looked at his manager and said, "Do you notice anything different about me tonight?" His manager didn't notice anything unusual about Cash's all-black attire. Cash then told him to look at his feet. He was wearing two left boots. The manager asked Glanzer to find a pair of size 13 black boots and gave him $100. Glanzer took off for the midway, where he knew Geiger's Western Wear was selling western clothes and tack. The largest black boots were size 12, so Glanzer bought them and ran back to stage.

Cash squeezed his size 13 feet into the size 12 boots and went on stage to perform two shows. At the end of his second show, Cash told the audience the story of his two left boots and how the new boots were too small. He spotted Sherwin Linton in the audience and invited him on stage.

As Glanzer recalls, Johnny gave a nice tribute to Sherwin, took off the boots and told Linton to try them on. He then asked Sherwin, “How do they fit?”

Sherwin replied, “I could never fill your shoes, Johnny!”

Cash replied, "Oh, yes you can!" Linton went back to his seat wearing the new trophies of the concert and Johnny finished the show in his stocking feet.

South Dakota Magazine is proud to be a part of South Dakota’s fair tradition this summer. Look for our green '49 Chevy delivery pickup and stop by for a slice of watermelon. And if you see Sherwin Linton, ask about Johnny’s boots.


10:43 am - Mon, August 24 2015
Miranda said:
Great story, Katie!
06:11 am - Tue, August 25 2015
Ed said:
Great story. You have to tell us all the places that Sherwin remembers playing in SD. If he can remember all the names of the facilities would be good like in Lane or Ruskin Park. Then another story about what happened to those places and which ones still exists.
09:49 am - Wed, September 2 2015
Katie said:
Ed, I like that idea! I'll talk to him at the state fair.
09:49 am - Wed, September 2 2015
Katie said:
Thanks Miranda!

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