Campground Closing Doesn’t Deter Festival

August 23, 2010 by   - () Comments Off on Campground Closing Doesn’t Deter Festival

People in Yankton, S.D., got into the Hawaiian spirit this weekend with the 27th annual Riverboat Days Festival. It’s one of the biggest summer festivals in South Dakota, drawing tens of thousands to the community. But, severe weather earlier this summer made it tougher to get everyone to town, KDLT-TV, Sioux Falls, reported.

Everywhere you turn at Riverside Park, there’s something different to see and hear, from arts and crafts demonstrations to festival food to fundraisers.

“It started, actually, out of the trunk of a car and has moved on since. People have grown with us,” said Riverboat Days Committee Co-Chair Mike Gullikson.

For the past 27 summers, thousands of people make the trip to Yankton for Riverboat Days. Many stay for the whole three days of fun, but this year, severe weather put a wrench into some people’s plans.

“This is a three-day celebration. More of a reunion for families. All the kids come home, it’s a great time,” said Co-Chair Chopper Johnson.

The Cottonwood Campground at Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River, a few miles west of Yankton, had to close after high winds tore down decades-old trees and destroyed buildings earlier this month. Managers had hoped to reopen in time for Riverboat Days, but the damage forced the campground to shut down until spring.

Festival organizers say the loss hasn’t effected attendance, though.

“I think we’re going to see about the same as every year. We’re right around 100,000 by the time the weekend ends up,” said Gullikson.

Organizers say most seem to have chosen to still come to Riverboat Days, even if it’s just for one day, instead of the whole weekend. Because of limited accommodations in town, the day trip may be something more families consider down the line.

“We’re just about as big as we can get, really, but we see more and more people commute for a day. We love that.” said Chopper.

Making it possible for everyone who wants to, to enjoy this summer tradition.

The three-day festival wrapped up Sunday night with an airshow, auction, and raffle drawing.


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