Memorial Day is seen as the official start to the summer season, and in Yankton, that means it’s the start of a very busy season of plans and activities.
That’s certainly the case again this year, as the summer has something for everyone, whether it’s on the water, in the parks or even in the heavens.
But there are also a few changes, surprises and caveats to bear in mind in the Yankton area this coming season.
Here is a summary of 10 things to know about Yankton’s Summer of 2017.
1. Ribfest Settles Into New Home
The location may have changed, but Yankton’s Rockin’ Ribfest will still feature two days of music, barbecue and other fun.
This year, after three years in Fantle Memorial Park, Ribfest moves to the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center June 2-3. A small gate fee will be charged to patrons that will cover both days of the event.
In addition to 16 food vendors, Ribfest will feature a free children’s zone and a number of bands, culminating with headliner Hairball Saturday night.
New this year will be shuttle buses, which will run Saturday from 4 p.m. through midnight, picking up passengers on Douglas Ave. between Second St. and Third St. and by the Memorial Park tennis courts to transport people to Ribfest.
Ribfest will be held in the east field behind the archery center.
2. Setting Sail
Competitive sailing will hit the water of Lewis & Clark Lake next month when the 2017 Hobie 16/20 North American Championships is held June 19-23 at Hobie Beach. Best Western in Yankton is the host hotel for the competitors.
All of the non-sailing during the championships will take place within 50 meters of the boats, including meals, camping/RV parking bonfires and parties. Meals will take place at Hobie Beach under the Big Tent.
The International Hobie Class Association was founded in 1991 to promote Hobie Racing in countries and regions that are IHCA members in Hobie sailing.
3. Let There Be Music
Music fans will be happy with the number of opportunities available to them this summer.
Returning for its second year will be Music at the Meridian, which will feature live music every Thursday night between July 6 through Aug. 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Meridian Plaza west of the bridge. Each event will include food trucks. The July 20 concert will be an alcohol-free family night and feature Omaha Street Percussion.
Another returning event will be Rock ‘N’ Rumble, set for July 21-22. This year’s festivities will include four bands, two poker runs, food and a bike parade across the Meridian Bridge.
Music will also reign during Rockin’ Ribfest (of course) and Riverboat Days, which will have a full slate of music and entertainment.
Also, the Yankton Area Arts Association’s summer concert series will take place this summer, kicking off Tuesday, May 30, with the Yankton Area Summer Band. All concerts will be at 8 p.m. at the Riverside Park Amphitheater.
4. Area Fun!
Looking for places to visit? Take part in the fun and historical scene with Crofton, Nebraska’s 125th anniversary celebration, or Q125, as residents call it. The event runs June 30-July 4, incorporating the town’s traditional Fourth of July events and baseball game with the special anniversary.
But southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska offer an entire summer of celebrations, festivals, rodeos and powwows. Check out these other activities, with others also on the calendar: May 27 — Bird Walk, Niobrara (Neb.) State Park; May 27-28 — South Dakota Kayak Challenge, Yankton to South Sioux City, Neb.; June 2-4 — Fish Days, Lake Andes; June 3 — Aquatic Center grand opening and dedication, Ponca (Neb.) State Park; June 8-11 — Kolach Days, Verdigre, Neb.; June 10 — Open Class Horse Show, Bloomfield, Neb.; June 16-17 — Czech Days, Tabor; June 16-18 — Marion’s Summer Celebration; June 16-18, Berrypepper Days — Creighton, Neb.; June 16-19 — Ag Days, Laurel, Neb.; June 23-24 — Irene Rodeo; June 23-24 — Days of ’56 Rodeo, Ponca, Neb.; June 23-25 — Fort Randall Casino Indian Day Wacipi, Pickstown; June 23-25 — Santee Sioux Nation Powwow, Santee, Neb.; June 24 — Ribs and MORE at the Ranch, Freeman; June 30 — Nebraska 150th Time Machine On Display, Center, Neb.; June 30, July 1-2 — Greenwood Wacipi, Greenwood; June 30-July 4 — Tornado Days/Toilet Bowl Races, Centerville; July 2 — Sidewalk Chalk Art with Nature Programs, Niobrara (Neb.) State Park; July 4 — celebrations including Yankton, Menno, Springfield, Vermillion; St. Helena, Neb.; July 8-9 — Community Fair, Randolph, Neb.; July 14-16 — Danish Days, Viborg; July 15 — BOW kayaking, geogaching, Kite Day walk, Niobrara (Neb.) State Park; July 19-23 — Cedar County Fair, Hartington, Neb.; July 21-23 — Desperado Days, Niobrara, Neb.; July 27-30 — Union County 4-H Achievement Days, Alcester; July 28-29 — Bon Homme County 4-H Achievement Days, Tyndall; July 29, Barbecue — Wausa, Neb.; July 31-Aug. 1 — Douglas County 4-H Achievement Days, Armour; Aug. 3-4 — Charles Mix County 4-H Achievement Days, Lake Andes; Aug. 3-5 — Yankton County 4-H Achievement Days, Yankton; Aug. 3-5, Hutchinson County 4-H Achievement Days — Tripp; Aug. 4-6 — Yankton Sioux Tribe Fort Randall Powwow (traditional), Lake Andes; Aug. 10-12 — Knox County Fair, Bloomfield, Neb.; Aug. 10-13 — Clay County Fair, Vermillion; Aug. 11-13 — Scottie Stampede, Scotland; Aug. 11-13 — Ponca Powwow, southwest of Niobrara, Neb.; Aug. 12 — Adams Homestead Celebration, North Sioux City; Aug. 12-13 — Fur Trader Days, Geddes; Aug. 14-17 — Turner County Fair, Parker; Aug. 22 — Lewis and Clark Heritage Days, Elk Point; Sept. 1-4 — Wagner Labor Day Celebration; Sept. 2-3 — Labor Day Celebration, Wausa, Neb.
5. Construction Rearrangements
Several events this summer will be impacted by the construction of Yankton’s new water treatment plant.
For the duration of the three-year project, a portion of the riverfront trail running between the treatment plant and the river and Levee St. from the Meridian Bridge to Douglas Ave. will be closed to thru traffic. Parts of the trail will even be removed in order to facilitate construction. These will be rebuilt following the project’s completion.
The parking lot between the water plant and the Dakota Territorial Capitol in Riverside Park will also be closed off so it can be used as a staging area for equipment for the project.
Annual events like Meridian en Blanc and Relay for Life have had to make changes in location so as not to get in the way of construction. Relay for Life will be held June 23 at the Pierson Ranch Recreational Area west of Yankton, and Meridian en Blanc will take place July 22 at Memorial Park. Relay for Life had previously been held at Riverside Park and Meridian en Blanc on the Meridian Bridge.
Yankton Parks and Recreation director Todd Larson acknowledged that the construction would be an inconvenience for the next three years.
“But we have other roadways and sidewalks, and we’re working on adding an accessible walkway down in the park by the restroom facility between the capitol building and the amphitheater,” he said.
Since Yankton is a small town, it will take some getting used to parking a distance away from a place/event at Riverside Park, he said, adding that it’s no different in larger communities.
While most events traditionally held at Riverside Park can be moved, an event like Riverboat Days is tied to the park.
“The City will keep working with (Riverboat Days) to find the best-case situation,” Larson said. “We understand how important that event is to our community, businesses and citizens.”
Another event, the El Riad Shrine Circus, will also be impacted by construction, though this construction will be of Crane-Youngworth Stadium where the circus was held previously. The circus will take place this year at the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Complex on June 23.
Also, the road construction on E. Highway 50 in Yankton may make for slow traveling throughout the summer, so allow yourself some time and patience.
6. Invasive Species
Some visitors to Lewis and Clark Lake and the Missouri River are unwelcome — namely, the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) such as the zebra mussel and Asian carp.
The battle against the zebra mussels has taken on a different dimension with its introduction and spread in Lewis and Clark Lake. The goal is to stop the spread to other bodies of water.
Once again, the Clean Boat Event will provide an outreach where volunteers will contact or leave information with anglers and recreationists about the importance of “clean, drain and dry” their watercraft before launching or placing it in another waterway.
The Clean Boat Event will incorporate a number of docks in the Yankton region. This year’s campaign has been extended to a longer period to reach a broader audience and capitalize on days when the weather conditions are right. Some work took place in May, with the next visits planned in June.
“The play’s the thing!” Shakespeare once wrote. And if plays and the theater are your thing, the summer season in the Yankton area offers opportunities for you.
This includes a dab of Shakespeare, as the annual South Dakota Shakespeare Festival will be held at Vermillion’s Prentis Park June 8-11. This year’s production is as early work by the bard, “The Comedy of Errors.”
Yankton’s Lewis and Clark Theatre Company (LCTC) offers two presentations this summer, beginning with Meredith Wilson’s venerable “The Music Man,” which runs June 8-11 and June 15-18. Then, the LCTC presents “The Odd Couple” Aug. 2-6 and Aug. 11-13. Both productions are in the Dakota Theatre in downtown Yankton.
Meanwhile, the Yankton Children’s Theatre Company presents “Around the World in 8 Plays” at the Dakota Theatre July 13-16.
8. Camping Season
With camping season officially kicking off Memorial Day weekend, all hope is not lost on finding camping spaces this summer.
At the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, most reservations can be made 90-days in advance. However, if you are looking in the short term you still have options. Same-day reservations in the Yankton section consists of 107 campsites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“These sites have always been very popular with our local guests who want to come out and stay for a day or two, or even for a week or more,” said Shane Bertsch, Game Fish and Parks (GFP) district park supervisor. “You can call at 7 a.m. or go online the day you want to arrive to make a reservation. Sometimes, the same-day sites will be gone by Wednesday, especially on holiday weekends.”
The largest campgrounds in the Yankton area are Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, Chief White Crane, Pearson Ranch, Nebraska Tailwaters and Cottonwood campgrounds, however there are also several non-state or federally owned campgrounds to explore in the region.
9. Skies On Fire!
For those who are looking for more bang for their buck this summer, you’re in luck.
The Meridian District is set to host the inaugural 3rd on 3rd celebration July 3, which will feature a street dance at the intersection of Third St. and Walnut St., a DJ, food, drinks and a small fireworks show.
This will be the precursor to the big fireworks show set for July 4 along the Missouri River at Riverside Park.
But for those who miss out on the traditional Independence Day fireworks, they’ll still have a chance to catch the fireworks at Riverboat Days on Aug. 19.
Many area towns will also have fireworks displays around the Independence Day holiday. Also, Tabor will hold its annual Rich Schild Memorial Fireworks Display June 15 on the eve of Czech Days.
10. The Dark Of The Day
Monday, Aug. 21, will present the region with an extraordinary showcase, as a total solar eclipse will move across the center of the country about midday.
The Yankton area will not be in the path of totality, but it will be close enough to get a 90 percent eclipse, which will darken things considerably for several minutes. In Yankton, the eclipse starts at 11:36 a.m. and ends at 2:25 p.m., with the maximum effect at 1 p.m. (Remember to take precautions, because what sunlight there is during an eclipse is more intense and can do serious damage to your eyes.)
If you want to see a total solar eclipse, you only have to venture about three hours south, as the path will angle from western Nebraska to the southeast corner. Those in that path will witness the greatest show.