No need to venture far – state is full of stellar attractions

No need to venture far – state is full of stellar attractions by Bob Karolevitz South Dakota has lots of stellar attractions, and Phyllis and I have been to most of them – sometimes more than once.

Folks go to far-away places to get their entertainment because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But if they look – as we did – at the possibilities in this little old state of ours, they might just find plenty of opportunities right here at home.

Here are some of the things that Phyllis and I have enjoyed.

We've been to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, although I've only been on a moving bike just once in my life – and that wasn't a particularly happy experience. At Czech Days in Tabor we've stood – and drank – with people from all over. The beer and the kolaches were good, too.

We've attended the State Fair in Huron on several occasions, and it wasn't too hard on my wallet until Phyllis bought a couple of miniature horses there.

At the Schmeckfest in Freeman we've stuffed ourselves with Mennonite food and learned about their heritage. We've sipped sodas at Edgar's fountain in Elk Point, eaten donuts at Wall Drug and had funnel cakes amid the crowds at Riverboat Days in Yankton.

We've ridden the Whetstone Valley Express railroad at Milbank and the 1880 train at Hill City. We quaked appropriately at the fake robbery on the way to Corona in the former and ducked when the vigilantes shot it out with Sam Bass on Main Street in the latter Black Hills town.

For artwork we've viewed the Harvey Dunn paintings at the Art Museum in Brookings, saw Oscar Howe's permanent collection in Mitchell and marvelled at Terry Redlin's portrayals at his fabulous center in Watertown. On more than one occasion we've taken out-of-state friends to the world-class Shrine to Music in Vermillion.

We've toured the outstanding Washington pavilion in Sioux Falls and visited the Great Plains Zoo there. At Mitchell we delivered Garritys' corn cob jelly to the concessionaires at the one-and-only Corn Palace. We also saw all the dolls – more than 4,000 of them – at the museum across the street.

And who can forget the famous faces on the Rushmore Memorial? I can still remember the MC saying at the night-time ceremony: "In Biblical times when it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, South Dakota got only 3/10ths of an inch."

We've listened to the Red Willow Band at the Summer Arts Festival and walked through the colorful McCrory Gardens in Brookings, sat on bales at Hay Days in Gayville, spent many hours at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre and stayed in our car when a herd of buffaloes (make that bison) crossed the road in front of us at Custer State Park.

For more culture we saw the thatched-roofed Anne Hathaway cottage in Wessington Springs, the Laura Ingalls Wilder house in De Smet and the Oscar Micheaux homestead near Gregory.

We got religion at the Black Hills Passion Play in Spearfish and then foolishly gambled in Deadwood where we stayed in the historic Franklin Hotel.

We've been to the mammoth site in Hot Springs, the Pioneer Auto Museum in Murdo, the Badlands south of Kadoka, the Crazy Horse Memorial north of Custer, the Dells of Jesse James fame in Garretson, the Akta Lakota Museum and the South Dakota Hall of Fame building in Chamberlain, the State Game Lodge and lots of other places.

Gee, I get tired of thinking of all the miles we've put on seeing the sights of South Dakota, but it does give you an idea of what's available in our state.

Who needs New York anyway?

© 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz

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