The Memorial Day holiday marks the unofficial start of summer. Here are 10 things to keep in mind and on your radar for the season ahead ...
Summer is always a busy season in Yankton itself, with events of all kinds happening on most weekends, either in town or at the lake area. Events such as the Lake Yankton Outdoor Festival (in June), the Tri-State Old Iron Tractor Ride (July) and Meridian en Blanc (July) are fixtures of the summer schedule.
But Yankton’s summer calendar also features some tentpole celebrations.
Ribs are again on the menu the first weekend of June as the annual Rockin’ Ribfest returns. The idea has been resurrected and will take place in downtown Yankton June 1.
In July, the fun will rumble through the streets with the annual Rockin’ Rumble. It will take place July 26-27.
Yankton summer centerpiece, of course, is the annual Riverboat Days celebration, which this year will take place Aug. 16-18. This event encompasses many activities, including the annual Summer Arts Festival and Extreme Bullriding event, to name a few. There will also be a big fireworks display on the opening night of the festival.
Speaking of which, Independence Day will again be an explosive time in Yankton with the annual Fourth of July fireworks display across from Riverside Park.
Up In The Air
A year after celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Chan Gurney Municipal Airport will mark another milestone late this summer when it hosts its first air show.
In celebration of the city’s 150th anniversary of incorporation, the airport will host a two-day air show featuring historic aircraft, a World War I reenactment, wing-walkers and more.
Yankton Events Coordinator Brittany LaCroix told the Press & Dakotan earlier this year that city officials wanted to try something new with the airport.
“We’ve been talking amongst the commissioners and within the city how we underutilize this great airport that we have,” LaCroix said. “(We were) trying to figure out what are the best ways to use that airport that also sticks to what an airport does.”
She said an air show seemed like a natural fit.
“It doesn’t make sense to have a Ribfest-type event out at the airport, but an air show definitely does make sense,” she said. “This year is the 150th (anniversary) of the incorporation of the city, and everything just kind of aligned where it made sense to finally do an air show this year.”
The show is set for Aug. 31-Sept. 1. Plans are also to incorporate an aerial display connected to the show into the Welcome to Walnut event on Friday, Aug. 30.
Chislic On The Menu
It’s time to get on the stick with this Freeman celebration! The second annual South Dakota Chislic Festival, set for July 27, features the cubes of meat (traditionally lamb or mutton) served on skewers or sticks. The treat is usually enjoyed with garlic salt, crackers and beer.
For last year’s inaugural event, organizers had hoped for around 2,000 visitors; instead, they were overwhelmed with an estimated crowd of 10,000. Quick trips were made to replenish food and drink where possible. Cars overflowed the parking area and were lined up waiting on U.S. Highway 81 that runs along the east side of the community.
This year, organizers are rolling out what they consider a number of improvements that will better serve the hungry throngs. The festival is moving to a new location. The activities are set for the Prairie Arboretum on the Freeman Academy campus, which offers more space.
The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Besides chislic and craft beer, the event offers other food and drink; chislic making competition; entertainment and a kids area. More details can be found on the event’s Facebook page or its website at www.sdchislicfestival.com.
Festivals abound in the area, from ethnic celebrations to Native American powwows. The following is an overview of events that were available for listing at this time and don’t include Independence Day celebrations.
The activity kicks off with Lake Andes Fish Days on May 31-June 2, in honor of the town’s nearby lake and fishing tradition. During the celebration, the winners (losers?) are crowned as royalty and get to kiss the fish.
Do you want to experience pioneer life and the great outdoors all at the same time? On June 8, venture down to the Lake Yankton Outdoor Festival and to Homestead Day (at Pierson Ranch), held at adjacent sites from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stay for the Cardboard Boat Regatta, which starts immediately afterwards at Lake Yankton.
Czech this out! You can celebrate a double dose of that heritage during Czech Days June 13-15 at Tabor and Kolach Days June 13-16 in Verdigre, Nebraska. The events feature traditional costumes, foods, music and dancing, along with the religious faith and history of early settlers.
Scandinavians celebrate their heritage with two area festivals: the 150th Dalesburg Midsommar Festival, held June 21 at Dalesburg Lutheran Church, north of Vermillion; and Danish Days, July 17-21 at Viborg. Food, fun and fellowship are all part of the ethnic celebrations.
Native American powwows contain a flurry of colorful regalia and traditional dances along with food and friendship. The events honor the past and share heritage with both tribal and non-tribal members. The area celebrations include the Santee Sioux powwow June 29-30, the Greenwood powwow (with the Yankton Sioux) July 5-7; and the Ponca powwow, west of Niobrara, Nebraska, on Aug. 9-11.
Those who enjoy rodeo action can check out the Irene Rodeo June 28-29, the Clearwater (Nebraska) Rodeo, June 28-30; the Springfield Bull-A-Rama July 3; the Niobrara (Nebraska) Rough Riders Rodeo July 27, Scottie Stampede Rodeo Days Aug. 10-11 in Scotland; and the Wagner Labor Day rodeo Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
Do you enjoy county fairs? The region features some of the finest, each with a family-friendly atmosphere. The Madison County Fair in Madison, Nebraska, runs July 11-14; followed by the Cedar County Fair July 17-21 at Hartington, Nebraska; the Dixon County Fair July 31-Aug. 4 in Concord, Nebraska; the Clay County Fair Aug. 8-10 in Vermillion; the Knox County Fair Aug. 8-11 at Bloomfield, Nebraska; and the Turner County Fair wraps things up Aug. 12-15 in Parker.
Achievement Days for 4-H members are slated for the following counties: Bon Homme, Aug. 2-3 in Tyndall; Charles Mix, July 30-Aug. 2 in Lake Andes; Douglas, Aug. 5-6 in Armour; Hutchinson, Aug. 1-3 in Tripp; Union, Aug. 1-4 in Alcester; and Yankton, Aug. 1-3 in Yankton.
Other area celebrations include the Plainview (Nebraska) Klown Days June 7-9; Bloomfield (Nebraska) Appreciation Days, June 13-15; Marion summer celebration June 14-16; Berrypepper Days in Creighton, Nebraska,, June 21-23; Centerville Tornado Days July 3-7; Wausa (Nebraska) Pork Chop BBQ July 27; Adams Homestead Celebration, Aug. 10 at North Sioux City; Fur Trader Days, Aug. 10-11 in Geddes; and the Wausa (Nebraska) Labor Day Celebration Aug. 31-Sept. 1; and the Wagner Labor Day Celebration Aug. 30-Sept. 2.
The Last Splash
The Fantle Memorial Park swimming pool has served the Yankton community since 1947.
With a new aquatic center swiftly moving through the planning phases, 2019 is set to be the last for the current pool.
However, Yankton Parks & Recreation Director Todd Larson told the Press & Dakotan it will still be a season full of activities for the pool — as soon as Mother Nature allows it to open.
“It’s scheduled to open up Friday, May 31, if we ever get the rain and cold weather to give us a break to get it ready,” Larson said.
He added that there will still be some of the classic events in its final season.
“No special events for the last season, but we will have our normal special events,” he said. “There are some Friday nights that are teen nights. We have the Poochie Plunge after we close it down to the public — usually after Riverboat Days weekend.”
Events at the pool this summer include:
• “Buck Nights” every Wednesday from 5-8 p.m.
• The Yankton Invitational Swim Meet June 15-16.
• Fourth of July Swim Carnival July 4 from 12:30-4 p.m.
• Teen Nights June 7 (“Life is Better in Flip Flops!”), July 12 (“Summer Nights and City Lights!”) and Aug. 9 (“Last Blast of Summer!”). Each event is from 8-10 p.m.
The pool is slated to shut down the Friday of Riverboat Days.
Music In The Air
Music is going to be a big part of Yankton’s summer once again.
Two major music series will be returning yet again this year — the city’s Music at the Meridian and Yankton Area Arts’ (YAA) Summer Concert Series.
YAA Executive Director Julie Amsberry told the Press & Dakotan that concerts begin next week.
“Our concert series starts with six concerts by the Yankton Area Summer Band,” Amsberry said. “They’re an all-volunteer concert band that gets together at 6:30 p.m. on the night of the concert and then does a performance starting at 8 p.m.”
She said directors are hired from around the region to conduct each concert.
Four additional “pop” concerts will be held after the first six shows.
“It’ll be a nice variety of bands ranging from classic rock to Celtic music and jazz music,” Amsberry said. “It will be a nice variety of bands that haven’t been in Yankton before.
The free concerts are held at 8 p.m. Tuesday nights at the Riverside Park amphitheater starting May 28.
Later in the summer, Music at the Meridian will get underway Thursday nights from 6-8 p.m. in the green space west of the Meridian Bridge.
The first concert is set for July 4.
This year’s lineup includes:
• July 4 — Bluewater Kings Band
• July 11 — Writers in the Round
• July 18 — Dust Devil Choir
• July 25 — The Maytags
• Aug. 1 — Patrick Recob & the Perpetual Luau All Stars
• Aug. 8 — The Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperance League
• Aug. 15 — Omaha Street Percussion
Food trucks will also be on site for each event.
Riding The Waves
The South Dakota Kayak Challenge returns to Yankton this year on Saturday, May 25, in Riverside Park with a 7 a.m. start. Racers will put in to the Missouri River in Yankton and travel 72 miles to Sioux City, Iowa, in this one-day race.
For more information go to https://sdkayakchallenge.org/.
The sixth annual Fort To Field 50 Paddle Battle is set for July 13 below the Fort Randall Dam. In this event that aims to showcase the beauty of the Missouri River, racers travel the 50-mile stretch from the Fort Randall Dam to Springfield, which is how the “Fort To Field 50” race got its name.
Kayakers of any skill level are encouraged to join in. The race begins at 7:20 a.m. Saturday and all racers must finish by 9:30 p.m. that night. For more information go to http://sdbestriverraces.com/.
The Wheel Deal
This June, Yankton will be participating in the seventh annual Ride Across South Dakota (RASDak), a bicycle ride intended to show off South Dakota’s scenic beauty. The event runs from June 2-June 8 and sends participants on a tour of the state.
This year’s tour begins in Custer, but on May 31, nearly 100 RASDak participants are set to spend a day in Yankton enjoying the unique entertainment that Yankton has to offer, including: a visit to the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Complex, a historical bicycle tour, the RASDak Roundup tap party with food and live music, an interpretive Missouri River paddle and a watercraft exploration of Lake Yankton.
Riders will camp out in Yankton and leave for Custer the next morning.
The seven-day, seven-night bicycle tour will follow U.S. highways 18 and 50, taking participants through Hot Springs, Red Cloud, Martin, Mission, Gregory and Wagner. The ride ends in Yankton on the upper deck of the Meridian Bridge June 8.
Yankton Convention and Visitors Bureau has planned a 9 a.m. bike ride that day and a finish line celebration. Cyclists can also ride out to Lake Yankton for the Lake Yankton Outdoor Festival and Homestead Day or ride to the corner of S.D. highways 50 & 52, where Yankton’s Sertoma Club will be hosting a snack stop.
An optional free-will donation will be accepted to fund repairs to Yankton’s Auld-Brokaw Bicycle Trail that was severely damaged by early spring flooding.
All the world’s a stage, and area theater goers can enjoy a variety of experiences.
The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival returns June 6-9 to Prentis Park in Vermillion. This year’s production features “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The production begins at 7 p.m. June 6-8 and 4 p.m. June 9. The event is free and open to the public, but a free will donation will be taken. Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs.
For more details, visit the Facebook page or website at http://www.sdshakespearefestival.org.
Also in Vermillion, the sounds of the group ABBA come to town when the Vermillion Community Theatre presents the musical “Mamma Mia!” July 12-15. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. July 12-13 and 15 with a 2:30 p.m. matinee July 14 (Sunday).
The musical will run at the Thomas H. Craig Center for Performing Arts at Vermillion High School.
For more information, visit the Facebook page or online at www.vermillioncommunitytheatre.org.
The season for musical theater doesn’t end there, though.
The yellow brick road leads to Dakota Theatre in Yankton, as the Lewis and Clark Theatre Company will present “The Wizard of Oz” on two successive weekends, July 18-21 and July 25-28.
Keith Goeden is directing the musical production with assistance from Stacie Pietz and musical director Angela Larson.
For more information, visit online at www.lewisandclarktheatre.org.
The Yankton area has been impacted greatly by wet conditions this spring, and those effects will be felt into the summer.
A lot of things changed in mid-March when a bomb cyclone dumped heavy rain on frozen ground, creating destructive flash flooding across a wide swath of the region. The toll that storm has taken is still being assessed.
One of the major casualties was Yankton’s Auld-Brokaw Trail, which was partially destroyed in the flooding onslaught. As of this writing, some parts of the trail have been opened, but much of it remains closed because of heavy damage. If you’re visiting Yankton this summer and plan on taking advantage of our trail system, be prepared for detours.
Also impacted by the flooding are the area’s rural gravel roads. There are still many roads that are closed, and others remain in poor condition. If your summer plans usually include using these roads, be sure you know what’s open, and be mindful of the roadways you can access.
In all probability, the wet spring — which has produced standing water in many places — could produce a bumper crop of insects this summer. While cities and counties are attempting to spray when and where they can, you would be smart to have a good supply of insect repellent on hand.