Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias Dr. James Green, co-chairman of the Newcastle/Vermillion Bridge Corporation, had good news to report at Monday's meeting of the Vermillion City Council.

The bridge construction is on schedule. Steve Ulmer, the superintendent of the project, reports that the new structure over the river should be complete by Nov. 1.

That naturally will be cause for celebration. Green told the city council that a ribbon cutting likely will be held either Nov. 3 or Nov. 10. A dedication ceremony, complete with a parade, will be held in June 2002.

We must admit, however, to be feeling a bit disappointed on hearing Green's announcement that the span will formally be known as the Newcastle/Vermillion Bridge.

The "Newcastle/Vermillion" moniker may have been fine for the corporation of South Dakota and Nebraska citizens that cooperatively worked so hard to make the bridge a reality.

But let's face it. "Newcastle/Vermillion" rolls off the tongue with about as much grace as a grand piano rolling down a flight of stairs. The name does little more than describe the two closest points the bridge will connect.

We can do better than that.

Green noted that "Newcastle/Vermillion" overwhelmingly received the most votes at a meeting in August 1989. It's no wonder. The other names being considered for the bridge were worse: Maskell/Vermillion Bridge; Clay County/Dixon County Bridge; Dixon County/Vermillion Bridge.

We believe the bridge will be much more memorable to everyone who travels on it with a name that at least demonstrates that we have an awareness of the unique history of our region of the Midwest.

The bridge's name could better be tinged with a bit of history, or, in an unique way, honor the Missouri River, those who explored or tamed her, or the unique beauty of the region.

Why not consider Lewis and Clark Bridge, or Corps of Discovery Bridge, or Spirit Mound Bridge, or Big Muddy Bridge, or Bluff View Bridge, or Iona Ferry Bridge? The ferry was an important transportation link between Nebraska and Dakota Territory from 1859 to 1880.

How about the Missouri River Valley Bridge, or the Riverside Crossing Bridge, or the River Road Bridge? Why not call it the Mulberry Point Bridge?

Let's not saddle the new bridge with a rather uninviting, unappealing name. Please.

Just the facts (and some trivia)

about the South Dakota State Fair

Do you know how big the South Dakota State Fairgrounds are?

What is the age of the fair's oldest building?

If you're thinking this is the stuff that would appeal mainly to trivia buffs, you're probably right.

The fact sheet we received from the state fair this week, titled "Just the Facts. Some interesting and quirky facts about the state fair" treads that fine line, supplying both a bit of useless information and some facts that have some weighty, historical significance.

Clay County 4-H'ers have their eyes on the ultimate prize this week as the county fair begins � they hope their 4-H projects, ranging from fashion and agriculture, to crafts and horticulture, receive a high enough rating from judges to qualify for statewide competition at the fair in Huron, scheduled July 30-Aug. 5.

For that reason alone, it's important that they learn all that they can about what has become an annual tradition in South Dakota. Here are "just the facts" about the state fair:

* The South Dakota State Fairgrounds contain 190 acres of land and 52 fair-owned and maintained buildings.

* There are seven miles of roads on the fairgrounds.

* The fairgrounds have over 1350 campsites with electrical hookups, making this the largest campground in South Dakota.

* There are over 11,000 animal exhibits on the grounds during the fair.

* Approximately 1,440,000 feet of toilet paper are used each year at the fair. That is about 272 miles.

* Five free stages provide a variety of entertainment for all fairgoers. They are the Freedom Stage, The Centennial Stage, The Dakotaland Stage, Farm Credit Services of America Stage and the 4-H Stage. Free programming is also provided in the Women's Building Auditorium, the Horticulture Building, and the Art and Education Building.

* Seven semi truckloads of ice are used during the fair.

* About 70,000 cans of beer are sold each year at the fair.

* Over 207,000 pounds of woodchips are used to bed animals at the fair. These same animals generate 571 tons of manure.

* The state fair has over 400 vendors and exhibitors housed in seven buildings or located on 40 acres of outside spaces.

* Fairgoers produce 228 tons of garbage during the week of the fair.

* The South Dakota State Fair has the largest and cleanest midway in the state � Merriams Midway Shows.

* The fair can seat 10,000 people for a grandstand concert.

* This year marks the 116th South Dakota State Fair. It has been in Huron for 96 years.

* The oldest building on the grounds is the Dakotaland Museum. It was originally the Dairy Building built in 1913.

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