Vermillion prepares for Tour de Kota

The University of South Dakota campus will serve as a fitting last overnight stop next month for bicyclists taking part in the 2011 Argus Leader Tour de Kota.

The theme of the 2011 event is The College Campus Cruise.

The Tour de Kota will be held June 510, with the route beginning and ending in Sioux Falls and overnight stays at South Dakota college and university campuses along the way.

The six-day tour will cover 430 miles and includes overnight stays at Augustana College, South Dakota State University, Dakota State University, Mitchell, Freeman as well as the University of South Dakota and the University of Sioux Falls.

This year the Tour de Kota travels the back roads and byways in southeastern South Dakota on what has become one of the best cycling tours in the Midwest. Besides the college and university visits, riders will also enjoy the hospitality of more than 30 small towns and cities.

Vermillion already has a bit of Tour de Kota experience under its belt, serving as a stopping point for the event in 2007.

This year, we are an overnight community, so they (the bikers) will be spending a lot more time in Vermillion, said Maureen Cashin, visitor and tourism coordinator of the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company. The community will receive more exposure from the bikers as they come here next month.

We're excited about it, she said. There's a lot of work involved, but it's a great opportunity for us.

This years tour begins at Augustana College in Sioux Falls on Sunday, June 5. The final destination will be at University of Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls), which will complete the weeklong event on Friday, June 10. The six-day tour will cover 430 miles.

On Sunday morning, June 5, the riders will leave Sioux Falls and arrive at South Dakota State University in Brookings for an evening of South Dakota hospitality. Following the overnight festivities and stay in Brookings, the riders will head for Dakota State University in Madison on Monday, June 6, to enjoy another great university and town full of fantastic food and community hospitality.

Continuing southwest, riders will push forward to Mitchell for an evening of pampering, entertainment, and incredible food selections. With only two nights left, and a little over 200 miles already completed, riders will enjoy entertainment and a good nights rest in Freeman on Wednesday, June 8.

Finally, after passing through dozens of South Dakota communities, riders forge south on Thursday, June 9, for their final overnight stay at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion featuring more incredible food.

Waking up early for the last day of the ride on Friday, riders will make their final trek back to Sioux Falls to the University of Sioux Falls.

The riders will be coming in to Vermillion on June 9 from Freeman, where they will have stayed the night before, Cashin said. We don't really know what time the bikers will be arriving, but we're told that some of them get up at sunrise and hit the road, so we can expect them anytime from 10 a.m. on that day. They'll be here all day Thursday, June 9, and stay overnight, and then leave on Friday, June 10, for the last day of the tour which takes them back to Sioux Falls.

The Tour de Kotacampsite for bikers will be located on the USD campus in the North Complex area just north of Cherry Street between N. University and Plum Streets.

Those who choose to camp will be camping in tents, and those who choose to stay in residence halls will be staying in one of or some of the four halls that are located near the campsite, Cashin said. The bikers will have access to showers in the halls, too, and they will also have access to showers at the USD Wellness Center.

Original plans call for the campsite to be located at the tailgate site near the DakotaDome.

As a result of the weather, the grassy area in that area is not good, she said. It would be real muddy if we received more rain like we have lately, and then if it got windy and dry, there would be a lot of dirt.

So the committee decided, along with Facilities Management at USD, to change the location, Cashin said.

A nearby parking lot, located south of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts, will be home to food vendors, an information booth, and necessary equipment that travels along with the contingent of bikers.

It is estimated that between 400 and 600 riders will participate in this year's TDK.

We are trying to promote within the Vermillion, too, Cashin said, so that we can get people from the community to come out and share in the fun.

Vendors and the food selections they plan to offer bikers include:

Cherry Street Grille: Indian Taco, Big Dawg hot dog, shaved ice, cotton candy, chips, water.

Red Steakhouse: East African Burrito Bowl (rice/curry pinto beans/braised pork/warm tortillas).

Jones Food Center / Mr. Smiths Bakery, Caf & Catering: Homemade chicken salad sandwich, pasta bowl with Alfredo or marinara sauce and garlic stick, homemade fruit pie, bananas, Gatorade.

Hy-Vee: Breakfast burrito, chicken breast sandwich, hot dog, hamburger, bananas, water, Powerade.

Scotty Ds BBQ: BBQ ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked prime rib, soft drinks.

Pizza Hut: Jumbo pizza slice, pasta.

Scoops: Ice cream (hard-packed in a variety of delicious flavors!).

Pros Sports Bar, located one block away from the campsite on Dakota Street, offers various drink selections and other menu items.

Poker Alice will also perform at the campsite from approximately 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 9.

Midcontinent Communications will provide wireless access at the TdK campsite. For those staying in the residene halls, wireless access is also available there.

The USD shuttle Charlie will be available to transport people around campus between the residence halls, TdK campsite, and Wellness Center. The services of Vermillion Transit will also be available to the riders so that they may either visit Vermillions retail business to purchase needed items, or visit the citys attractions, such as the National Music Museum, W.H. Over Museum, Austin-Whittemore House Museum, Oscar Howe Gallery, Prentis Park, and the Valiant Vineyards Winery.

The bikers will leave Vermillion Friday morning, June 10, for the last leg of their journey back to Sioux Falls. They will receive a hearty sendoff, as the Vermillion Lions Club plans to serve their famed breakfast of pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Cost is $3 per plate for unlimited cakes and a couple of sausages.

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