Plans begin for next year
By MARY GALES ASKREN Staff Reporter
Seasons mark time in South Dakota, indicating the work to be done and leisure activity to be enjoyed. Right now, it’s harvest time, football season and pheasant hunting.
For Faron Wahl, at Prairie Village, it’s time to assess the 2017 season and to plan for 2018. Planning for the return of the carousel is foremost on his mind.
“Prairie Village has never been here without the carousel. It’s a real void out there,” he said.
Plans for restoration began more than five years ago, when it became apparent the century-old carnival ride was at risk. Time and use had taken their toll. A private donation augmented the fundraising efforts of the Prairie Pasque Questers, allowing the historic merry-go-round to be dismantled and shipped to Ohio a year ago.
Initially, the work was to have been completed in a matter of months, but Carousel Works ran into some obstacles.
“Some of the components that needed some work needed special lumber,” Wahl said.
Unfortunately, the company was unable to obtain the wood from their usual supplier in Washington state. Eventually, it was ordered from Canada after numerous delays made it apparent the materials simply could not be obtained from Washington this year.
In addition, when all of the mechanical parts were pressure-washed and examined, it became obvious that some were in poorer condition than originally believed. Wahl said the decision was made not to cut corners, but to complete the work in a manner which would enable the carousel to be used for years to come.
“What’s going to be sitting over there is a living, working, original piece of American history,” he said.
With winter closing in, it was further decided to delay delivery until spring. The work is still in progress, and with weather conditions becoming increasingly more uncertain as the year draws to a close, it seemed best to wait until the delivery could be made safely and the installation wouldn’t involve battling weather conditions.
Wahl said a celebration is planned when the carousel is returned.
Weather puts damper on Jamboree
The Jamboree in August is Prairie Village’s cornerstone event, and always popular, but this year numbers were down.
“The rain came on Friday night, so when people got up on Saturday, they saw how muddy it was and decided not to come,” Wahl said.
However, those who attended enjoyed the event, even though the Saturday tractor pull was postponed. The sun and breeze dried up the mud faster than anyone anticipated.
In 2018, the Jamboree will also be the site of the Minneapolis Moline National Show. Wahl said that while the Jamboree always features a tractor brand, it is not always the site of a national show.
“Many of those companies, whether they’re in existence or not, have a following,” he said, explaining that hosting the national show will draw a wider audience.
Prairie Village staff are already working with the regional group on planning.
“We’re anticipating a really big and fun event,” Wahl said.
The other events went well in 2017, especially the concerts at the opera house. Wahl said they selected a different genre for each of the three concerts, which proved to be popular.
“We’re hearing from a lot of folks they appreciate that mix,” he said.
Camping numbers increase
In order to make Prairie Village and scheduled events more accessible to families, camping has been offered from the beginning. This year, numbers were up, setting records in both May and June.
“We not only have camping, but it’s priced right,” Wahl said.
The cost of staying at Prairie Village includes admission to Prairie Village, which allows campers to spend more time there. With more than 300 spots available, they also have a variety of sites from which to choose.
The highest single weekend apart from the Jamboree was the Fourth of July, when 153 units were rented, according to Wahl. Generally, between 20-40 units are rented on any given weekend.
In addition to families, Prairie Village sees a lot of retired couples who choose to travel state highways, like SD34, instead of interstate highways, and to see the sites along them. Wahl said the income from camping supports the overall mission of the site.
“It expands our ability to bring people here, which helps us grow,” he said.
Courtesy Madison Daily Leader