Lewis and Clark Festival designed to increase awareness by David Lias Vermillion�s first annual Spirit of Lewis & Clark Festival, scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 25 at the W. H. Over Museum, is described by those who have helped organize the event as an indicator of better things to come.
�The bottom line is 195 years ago is when Lewis and Clark came through here,� said Dan Christopherson, chairman of the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee. �So we�re heading toward the bicentennial of their visit here in 2004. And there�s a ton of national and regional interest in this thing, and there�s going to be a ton of people following the trail.�
Wednesday�s festival is the first step toward preparing for the bicentennial celebration, he said.
�This is the countdown toward the year 2004, and the first one, in my opinion, is an awareness thing to try to make the public aware that this is going to happen,� Christopherson said.
The festival also will help increase public awareness of Spirit Mound, located northeast of Vermillion.
Lewis and Clark and members of their Corps of Discovery visited Spirit Mound Aug. 25, 1804, as they traveled north on the Missouri River into what is now South Dakota.
�We have a national treasure in our back yard,� said Bonnie Sorensen, manager of the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce.
�The fact that this is one of only two sites that are still somewhat in their natural state means there is a lot of national interest in this site,� Christopherson said.
The festival will begin at the W. H. Over Museum at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 25 with a blessing of the food that will be served that evening by Germain Sitting Crow.
Other scheduled events and speakers include:
? 6 p.m. � Flag raising by Mathew Williams, Eagle Scout and a purification ceremony demonstration by Wayne Evans.
? 6:30 p.m. � Opening remarks in Sletwold Hall inside the museum.
? 6:40 p.m. � Ole Olson, historian and Lewis and Clark re-enactor.
? 7:30 p.m. � Kent Scribner who will speak about Spirit Mound after Lewis and Clark.
? 8 p.m. � Tom and Alice Gasque, who will present a program about Sacajawea.
Sheryl Inhofer will demonstrate how to make dream catchers and a short video about Spirit Mound will be shown by Tammy Kuxhouse, videographer.
People attending the festival may dine on buffalo burgers, hot dogs, chips and beverages for a small charge.
Christopherson said the Vermilion Chamber of Commerce plans to hold similar celebrations annually, especially as the bicentennial of the Corps of Discovery�s journeys approaches.
�I know personally, three months ago, I wouldn�t have known what kind of impact this would have on the community,� Christopherson said. �We could have literally thousands and thousands of visitors coming through to see Spirit Mound.�
and to recreate the trail that Lewis and Clark took back in 1804.�