According to Mayor Dan Christopherson, the relationship between Ratingen, Germany and Vermillion dates back to 1976, the Bicentennial of the United States, when Mr. Otto Bartsch, then Stadtjugendpleger of the city of Ratingen, brought 125 youth and adults to the city of Vermillion.
This first visit encouraged hundreds of Ratingen youth to visit Vermillion in following years, and in 1982 the city of Vermillion and the city of Ratingen began an official "Sister City" relationship. The Sister City program has served a multitude of South Dakota and German citizens during the following 26 years, largely due to the efforts of Vermillion residents Werner Kitzler and Benno Wymar.
A flight carrying six citizens from Ratingen landed late Thursday night, April 10, at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls. They were brought to Vermillion by a contingent of local citizens who were on hand at the airport to greet them to South Dakota.
Vermillion's sister city guests include Ratingen Mayor Harald Birkenkamp, Frau Sara Gé rg, Frau Dr. Inge Ré hnelt, Frau Monika Ebling, Frau Christa Seher-Schneid and Frau Christine Roth.
A committee of Vermillion residents has been working for over three months planning activities and events to allow these special visitors to get a true understanding of the community.
In e-mail communications over the past several weeks, the Ratingen residents have indicated they hope to learn about Vermillion's culture, music, sports and youth.
The German guests will have full schedules during their time here. On Friday and Saturday, they are scheduled to go on a driving tour of Vermillion, take in a Brown Bag concert at the National Music Museum, dine at and tour the Buffalo Run Winery,
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and visit the city water treatment plant and the library.
Saturday morning, Vermillion's sister city residents will tour the National Music Museum, watch a tennis match at the DakotaDome, visit the W.H. Over Museum and tour and have lunch at the William J. Radigan Fire Station.
Saturday afternoon, they will tour the Vermillion Police Department, and after enjoying some free time, they will dine at Mayor Christopherson's residence.
On Sunday, the six Ratingen guests will depart for Pierre with Werner and Jan Kitzler. On Monday, they hope to meet with Secretary of State Chris Nelson, and possibly with Gov. Mike Rounds, before returning to Vermillion.
Tuesday's itinerary includes a tour of Vermillion High School, a tour of The University of South Dakota, noon lunch with the Vermillion Rotary Club at the Al Neuharth Media Center, and a tour of South Dakota Public Broadcasting and the Volante.
Later that afternoon, Vermillion's guests will visit Spirit Mound, and tour Masaba Industries. Tuesday evening, the group is scheduled to attend a USD Fine Arts event.
On Wednesday, April 16, the Ratingen citizens will have time in the morning to shop and take in other sights in Vermillion before leaving for Sioux Falls to catch an afternoon flight home to Germany.