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SCOUTING YESTERDAY: South Dakotans like to party on Independence Day - a look back
This week in South Dakota history: June 28-July 4
South Dakotans have been celebrating their nation’s independence from the British crown since before statehood. Here’s a look back at some notable freedom festivals and gatherings from around the Mount Rushmore State over the last century.
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100 years ago this Independence Day, one of the largest crowds in the history of Kadoka arrived by horse, buggy and gas-wagon, according to the Kadoka Press. Spectators were entertained by the Kadoka Band, directed by T.O. Klungseth, followed by a speech from South Dakota Senator Thomas Sterling on “The Victories of Peace.”
There was not an idle moment in Belle Fourche July 4, 1923, according to the Lead Daily Call. Eight to ten thousand spectators were in attendance for the Black Hills roundup and were treated to cowboy and cowgirl horse races, Indian dancing, wild horse riding and fancy roping, among many other shows.
The third annual post war Elks horse racing event was held at the Sioux Falls Sioux Empire Fairgrounds 75 years ago this Independence Day, according to the Argus Leader. An electric starting gate and photo finish equipment were on hand for the four-day event, which brought in over $100,000 in wagers.
The Rapid City Journal reports 4,500 audience members from 48 states attended the first post war Black Hills Passion Play in Spearfish on July 4, 1948. The production had been suspended since 1942 due to war and post war conditions.
The Queen City Mail reports that Spearfish Mayor Don Young, with members of the Spearfish Boy and Girl Scouts in attendance, declared July 4, 1973 “Honor America” day. Girl Scout Troop 61 member Debbie Cook said, “The fourth of July means Independence Day. It means a lot of people fought and died so I could have freedom of speech, freedom to read the truth and to go to any church and worship as I please.”
The Mitchell Chamber of Commerce Bicentennial Committee received a United States flag flown over Washington D.C. from Bicentennial Commissioner Orland Rothlisberger at the Corn Palace on July 4, 1973. Mitchell was selected as the host city for the 1976 bicentennial, according to The Daily Republic.
The Rapid City Journal reports that fog has squelched plans for a midnight fireworks display at Mount Rushmore 25 years ago. The 12:01 a.m. show was delayed until 9:30 p.m. the following night. A warm and moist weather pattern had put a damper on the Rushmore party plans. Explaining the weather delays, Rushmore superintendent Dan Went said, “We want to give you the best show we can. … But if the faces aren’t clear, it won’t work.”
The W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds hosted the Jayces’s firework display in Sioux Falls July 4, 1998, according to the Argus Leader. The Municipal Band played a patriotic performance followed by the disco-revival band The Glory Holes before the 10 p.m. display.
More notable happenings from this week in South Dakota history
June 28, 1973 — Six months after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidated a 90-year-old state abortion law, most hospitals in South Dakota still do not allow patient-requested abortions, according to the Argus Leader.
June 29, 1973 — The Deadwood Pioneer-Times reports that Lead officers will be checking motorcyclists to see if they meet city ordinances after a number of complaints about loud bikes.
July 1, 1923 — A new law about the weight of a loaf of bread goes into effect, according to The Miller Press. The new law set the standard weight of every loaf in the state. Bread was to weigh a pound or a multiple of a half pound. The common loaf weighed about one and a quarter pounds and the new law required 4 ounces be added.
July 3, 1923 — A party of scientists from Macalester College in St. Paul searching the Badlands for fossils have found them, according to the Rapid City Journal. Fossils of ancestral beavers, rabbits the size of gophers, mice the size of cottontails and black-tailed deer that stood one and a half foot tall were unearthed.
July 4, 1998 — The Argus Leader reports 14 firefighters, five four-wheel-drive engines and a water tender are among equipment and personnel that will be sent from the state to help battle Florida fires that have caused more than 70,000 to evacuate their homes.