Ushering in the winding down of summer, this year’s Riverboat Days brought new and old friends to the celebration, as well as ones we thought we lost along the way.
Katrina Amic, of Valentine, Nebraska, owner of Wayfaring Kat, was selling unique handmade jewelry from around the world this weekend at the crafts show at Yankton Village Mall. This was her first year at Riverboat Days, selling items she discovered while doing missionary work.
"I started doing missionary work and going to other countries and I kept seeing all this amazing stuff that they have a limited audience for," Amic said. "So, I thought, bring it back and see how it goes."
Amic arranges shipping with some artisans, or, when that is not possible, buys what she can and transports it in her carry-on bag, she said.
"There is one group out of Guatemala that has physical disabilities, so this helps pay for their housing and education," Amic said. "There’s a community in Africa that does a lot of work together, so if you buy from one, it supports all of them."
While on mission, Amic generally takes short bus trips into the countryside to find artisans from which to buy. She tries to find people that are selling on their own, so none of the money she pays goes to a middle man, she said.
Saturday, Amic’s booth featured jewelry made by individuals from Thailand, Guatemala, Belize, South Africa, Swaziland, Panama, Mexico and Mozambique.
"I appreciate that they use everything, so nothing is wasted," Amic said. "(Some) beads are made out of paper. They use the coconut shells, they hand carve things out of shells, they hand dye and hand weave some of the bags."
The artisans put a lot of work into the things they make, but where they live, there is usually a poor market for their wares or just a very low population, she said.
"One woman was making a skirt in Guatemala and she said it took her about a month. She was hand weaving these skirts, and I asked her how much she was charging," Amic said. "She was selling them for $13. It’s just sad to think that someone’s going to put so much effort into something and get so little out of it."
This is Amic’s second year doing her business full time, but she plans to do more missionary work this fall.
Back After More Than Three Decades
Musician Shawn Coles last visited Riverboat Days 33 years ago at the third annual festival.
"I played with a band. We were on a flatbed over there," Coles said, pointing to the east end of the park. "There was a guy selling hot dogs and a guy selling funnel cake and that’s it — just a bunch of bands."
The Yankton native moved away to Vienna, Austria, for a few years and eventually made his way back to Yankton, but not to Riverboat Days — until this Saturday.
"This is my first time, and (Sunday) will be my second time in 33 years," Coles said. "It’s grown quite a bit. I am having a blast."
MOPS Is Back In Yankton Helping Out At Riverboat Days
A new Yankton group had a presence at the Riverboat Days celebration.
The new Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) offered a changing area at the Dakota Territorial Capitol for parents with babies.
Janelle Norton, a coordinator for the newest chapter of the group, moved to Yankton from Minden, Nebraska, where she was fortunate to have a MOPS group.
MOPS is a faith-based fellowshipping and activity group for women raising kids ages 0-5 years old. Once the youngest child turns 5, the mothers "graduate" and newer members take over the group’s responsibilities.
At one time, Yankton had two MOPS groups, but after years of struggling to find leaders, they eventually stopped meeting.
The new group, Broadway MOPS, meets at Calvary Baptist Church the first and the third Thursdays of the month from 9-11 a.m. The first meeting of the school year will be Sept. 5.
"I moved here almost three years ago and they didn’t have MOPS," Norton said. "So I talked to a couple of friends at church. I wanted to get one going. So we decided to pull it together and we got it started last year. Now we have 15-20 members."
In previous years, MOPS provided an air-conditioned area for mothers with young children to feed and change them during Riverboat Days.
Unaware of that tradition, this year’s group opted on its own for a changing area as a service to the community, Norton said.
Kooistra Says Goodbye, For Now Anyway
A longtime MC for the Riverboat Days opening ceremony, KYNT’s Scott Kooistra has taken part in every Riverboat Days celebration since 1985.
But this year’s celebration may be his last — at least for a while.
"I am retiring next July 28, 2020," Kooistra said, "which means, of course, this is my last Riverboat Days."
Kooistra said he is planning a year of travel for the specific purpose of playing golf and competitive cribbage, and then plans to continue competing in cribbage and moderating competitions.
"So this is my last Riverboat Days for a while — but I don’t want to say forever. But it will be at least three years."
Like Coles, Kooistra noted some of the many changes Riverboat Days had undergone since it started 36 years ago.
"What I remember most is that we were so happy to be able to say there were 5,000 people at Riverboat Days in 1985," Kooistra said. "Of course there was no such thing as an amphitheater. It was a lot of mud down in Riverside Park."
He also noted that originally the parade was on Broadway Avenue and was not moved to its current route for a couple of years.
"This is the 36th Riverboat Days," Kooistra said. "What’s happened is just amazing, when you get 70,000-80,000 people in a weekend."
There were 178 spaces for venders and 128 entries in the parade, which was Kooistra’s 20th as announcer.
"It was great," he said.
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