Fair food, new pool, restaurant with new ownership: Three spots to stop at before summer’s end

Aug. 6, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by the Lincoln County and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations.

Summer isn’t over yet, but if you’re running out of ways to spend it, we’ve got some ideas.

The Midway Cafe

There isn’t a carnival in sight – but that hasn’t stopped The Midway Cafe.

“I didn’t know if people were going to come or not because you don’t know,” owner Rose Zeig said. “I was just like, well, let’s do it.”

That was earlier this summer as Zeig – who generally spends the season on the road working carnivals throughout the Midwest – began to have events cancel. Her son Matt, an economics major at USD, suggested they simply set up and see if people wanted to come.

A friend who owns land in their hometown of Hartford agreed, the city issued a permit, and they were open for business on Western Avenue, directly off Interstate 90.

The fare is what you’d typically find at a fair: hand-dipped corn dogs, hand-poured funnel cakes – the one with strawberry topping is the most popular – and fresh-squeezed lemonade. There are hamburgers, hot dogs and a bucket of nachos “that are really, really popular,” Zeig said, “with chili and cheese and onions and jalapenos.”

Carnival-craving diners have come from as far as Colorado and the Twin Cities. Regulars make the trip from more than an hour away.

“Things are a little different than a little bit tighter in Minnesota,” Zeig said. “So they’ll come down, and they’ll go have lunch here or a snack here, and they’ll go and have dinner in Sioux Falls, or they’ll shop because a lot of things aren’t as open there as they are here.”

Weather-permitting, hours are noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. While Matt heads back to class soon, his mom plans to stay open solo through Labor Day. The plan is to do a preview from the parking lot next year – before hopefully heading back out on the road again.

“It’s been really good,” Zeig said. “We’ve met some amazing people. I’m really, really lucky how many people we’ve met. It’s been pretty cool, actually.”

Lennox community pool

Ready to make the most of the remaining pool weather? Head to Lennox, where the new community pool is open for all.

“It’s about double the size of our previous pool. So our capacity is right at 245 swimmers, and that doesn’t include people on the deck, so we can fit quite a few people in here,” said Nathan Vander Plaats, Lennox city administrator.

“We’ve got a lot of great amenities. We’ve got a high dive, a low dive … the floating Oriole bird … and that’s been a big hit as well as our splash feature and our play feature in the shallow-entry area.”

With other area pools closed for the season, the Lennox pool is drawing visitors from across the area.

“We have yet to hit our capacity even on those super hot days. We’ve come close, but we’ve never actually hit our peak capacity,” Vander Plaats said.

The pool’s plan is to stay open until Aug. 23. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. for open swim daily, then an hour of family swim, and then it’s open again until 8 p.m. There’s also water walking in the morning and at night, plus swim lessons early in the day and lap swimming at night. The cost is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for kids.

“It really brings the community back together without having a pool for a couple of years,” Vander Plaats said.

“Especially this year with COVID-19, there’s not a whole lot of opportunity for people to be in one place. And this is a place where we have, first of all, enough spacing for them, but second, a great opportunity for them to come together and enjoy being in each other’s company.”

Critters Bar

And finally, if you’re looking for a great meal or some unique entertainment, there’s a place waiting for you on Main Street in Crooks.

Critters has been a bar and grill for years – home of the famous Roskens Dakota Pizza sold statewide – but new owners who took over last year have given new reasons to pay a visit.

“It’s becoming quite well known for a good place to come hang out with great food, great people,” said Bryon Farmer, who helps manage it.

Farmer is from Crooks and grew up in this bar and grill. Friends bought it last year, and he now helps run it. There’s a new menu, featuring wings with eight sauce choices and a popular Critter Bite appetizer.

“It’s like a wonton, filled with cream cheese, bacon, sweet corn, chives and red peppers,” Farmer said. “They’re quite delicious.”

It’s also still the home of legendary pizza – now called Critters Dive Bar Pizza – and offers a build-your-own burger menu.

“So you can basically come in and order whatever you like – whether you want peanut butter, fried egg, jalapenos, onions, whatever – we’ll make it if we’ve got it,” Farmer said.

The patio has been a popular spot this summer, with Thursday evening fundraisers and Sunday trivia among the highlights.

“We do a dunk tank out here that we have volunteers from each one of the different organizations volunteer to get on. And then we charge $5 for three balls, and we raise money that way. We do auctions, we do a 50-50 raffle, we do some other crazy little games and stuff,” Farmer said. “And through that and the support of the community and the people that come out, we’re able to raise quite a bit of money for people.”

Kids are welcome with parents too. Critters opens at 3 p.m. on weekdays and at noon on weekends.

“We’re still primarily a bar, but we do serve some pretty good food, and people like to come up here, and the kids love our pizza,” Farmer said. “We have takeout, online ordering, we have a curbside service going on, so we’re trying to accommodate everyone in multiple different ways so they feel safe to be around here and get food here.”

Looking for other ways to take a quick trip out of town this summer?

Don’t forget there are golf courses waiting in Brandon, Canton, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Harrisburg and Lennox.

And the state parks in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties are filled with outdoor activities. To see more, click below.

Get outdoors: State parks are waiting within minutes of Sioux Falls

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Fair food, new pool, restaurant with new ownership: Three spots to stop at before summer’s end

Summer isn’t over yet, but if you’re running out of ways to spend it we’ve got some ideas.

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