Vermillion will celebrate Lewis and Clark festival Vermillion will roll out the red carpet for South Dakota and its neighboring states when it celebrates the third annual Lewis and Clark Spirit Mound Festival Aug. 24-25. The festival will be held at the W. H. Over Museum, 1110 Ratingen.
This year's festival will include a variety of events and attractions for all ages with an historically accurate slant, and participants are encouraged to wear period costumes to the event. The festivities will begin Friday, Aug. 24 at 3:30 p.m. with hands-on activities and demonstrations. A buffalo feed at 5 p.m. will be followed by opening ceremonies, flag raising, prayer and welcome. A "Program Under the Tent" will include historically accurate presentations and the evening will culminate with a dance including Native American drum music and fiddle music at 8 p.m.
Saturday's events will begin with an early morning Spirit Mound Walk, retracing Lewis and Clark's actual 10-mile trek. A $30 fee includes a t-shirt, lunch, field guide and transportation back to Vermillion. Guided, one-hour van tours to Spirit Mound, the Missouri River and Cotton Park in Vermillion will be available for a $5 fee throughout the morning. Interested individuals should contact W.H. Over Museum in advance at (605)677-5228. Other Saturday morning activities will include traditional craft workshops and games at the Over Museum. The Sierra Club will also sponsor Missouri River canoe trips. A $30 fee for participants with their own canoes includes lunch and transportation, with a $59 option that includes canoe rental. For information or advance registration, call 1-866-285-3219.
"This festival is unique because of Spirit Mound," said Dorothy Neuhaus, director of the W.H. Over Museum, which is co-hosting the festival. "Spirit Mound is one of the few places in the country where Lewis and Clark actually stood. That little hill hasn't moved in all this time."
Spirit Mound, seven miles north of Vermillion on SD Highway 19, is one of a small number of locations that can be pinpointed with absolute certainty as a location where Lewis and Clark set foot during their journey. Although they kept meticulous logs, shifting river channels and other factors make identifying exact locations difficult for modern day historians. The National Parks Service has recently purchased the site, and other state and local funds have been earmarked to restore the property.
"We are delighted to see how interest in the Lewis and Clark Spirit Mound Festival has grown," said Royce Engstrom, chair of the festival committee. "Both the program and attendance planned for this year's event are quite a bit larger than in the past, and there is a great deal of long-term planning happening as well,"
"There is so much attention on Spirit Mound, the Missouri River, and Lewis and Clark right now, that people are really excited about Vermillion's upcoming festival. It's a great opportunity for our community to celebrate and show off its special resources and talents," said Engstrom, who is the dean of research and graduate education at The University of South Dakota, and the individual who oversees the recently developed Missouri River Institute at USD.
The Vermillion Chamber of Commerce has been actively involved in the development of this years festival and Chamber Director Jill LeCates describes the event as an opportunity for local residents to get together for two days of festivities, while at the same time, showcasing the town's expansion and developments.
"We are expanding and improving this festival each year in preparation for the thousands of visitors from across the country who are expected to travel the exact route Lewis and Clark traveled on the 200th anniversary of their first visit to our area on Aug. 25, 2004," she said. "If people have never been to Vermillion, or if it's been awhile, we invite them to come and enjoy the festival with us and see a town that's moving forward.
"We anticipate that the turnout for the festival will continue to grow through 2004 and beyond, as Vermillion folks invite their friends, families and neighbors and people in the region hear about it," LeCates added. "We've seen such a great response to the event in the past two years that we are committed to holding it as an annual event long after the official Lewis and Clark bicentennial has ended."
Vermillion Mayor Roger Kozak sees the festival as an opportunity to showcase a community on the upsurge.
"A lot of people equate Vermillion with The University of South Dakota, but there are many more activities going on here and I think the Spirit Mound Festival is indicative of that. We have a world class music museum, a new winery and a positive business climate, among other things. People here are getting excited and becoming involved in he community, helping plan improvement projects, taking pride in their community. We welcome the opportunity to show off a little bit with the festival and hope people take a look around at the other things we have to offer."
For more information on the Lewis and Clark Spirit Mound Festival, contact Jill LeCates at the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce at (605)624-5571, Dorothy Neuhaus at the W.H. Over Museum, (605)677-5228 or Royce Engstrom at The University of South Dakota at (605)677-5370.
Friday, Aug. 14
3:30 p.m. Crafts, demonstrations, games.
5 p.m. Opening ceremony
6:30 p.m. Spirit Mound Program under the Tent
8 p.m. Music and Dance
Saturday, Aug. 25
8 a.m. Trips
9 a.m. Van trips to Spirit Mound, Missouri River and Cotton Park in Vermillion.
Note: On Friday night, Taylor Drive, the street in front of the Over Museum will be closed to through traffic. Parking will be available on Ratingen Strasse and golf carts will be utilized to shuttle people from the street to the Over Museum.