Faron Wahl, Manager
Most of us find comfort in what’s familiar. Even the most restless and adventure-seeking folks tend to hold some inner longing for a certain amount of life undisturbed.
We offer plenty of familiar classics here at the village – annual goings-on you can hang your hat on. They amount to good stuff. But for all our customary offerings, I often get asked “What’s new this year? Anything big or extra-fun happening at the village?”
My aim is to drive things forward in such a way that we can always answer that question in the affirmative. But this year we’ll do even better. In other words, wow…. you bet we do! Allow me to touch on three such happenings.
Our Herschell-Spillman steam carousel came to Prairie Village in the very early days of our founding. It’s been a fixture here ever since, providing nostalgic trips back to the early days when portable carousels at local fairs were part of ushering a new leisure era into our country. It was an aged carousel when it moved to the village, and since then we’ve tacked on another 50 years of use.
Nothing lasts forever, and our historical gem was running out of life. To that end, the carousel departed last October in the capable hands of Carousel Works out of Mansfield, Ohio, a company that provides premiere level construction and restoration of wood carousels. A major restoration is well underway.
We continue to seek final funding to complete this critical work. If you are interested in being part of this landmark village project, please contact me at 256-3644. Learn more on our website at prairievillage.org/carousel.
While a firm date of return has not been established, we expect to see the carousel back home this year, likely during summer. Expect a ribbon cutting with history, fanfare, recognition, and yes…. something to eat! The restoration is key to the continued life and operation of this incredible vestige of our past, and we are looking forward to celebrating the carousel’s grand return with you!
We continue to seek expanded use of our fine Opera House, so a series of three concerts of varying genres are booked for your enjoyment. July 1 will bring the classic 50’s-rock sounds of the Holy Rocka Rollaz. If you check out their brief promo video at holyrockarollaz.com, I guarantee it’ll leave you wanting tickets.
July 29 will see the village return of Sherwin and Pam Linton and the Cotton Kings. These folks have been pleasing audiences for decades, and played our Opera House a few years ago during Jamboree. Think classic country, especially Johnny Cash. See more about them at sherwinlinton.com.
The one repeating act from last season will be Joseph Hall’s “Elvis Rock N Remember” tribute on September 16. He was a finalist a few years ago on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”, and wowed village concert goers last year. There may not be a more accurate rendition of Elvis out there. Check him out at josephhallelvis.com.
Tickets for all three concerts went on sale opening day, May 7.
The single most significant link to the founding of any village on the prairie is the railroad that made it possible. While trains crossing the prairie were once commonplace, they’re comparatively rare today. And steam? Only two places in South Dakota offer it: the Black Hills Central in Hill City and Prairie Village.
After seeing #29 operating in good health last season, a running #11 was added to the stable when she returned from Cheyenne last fall. After much additional work over the winter by some of our great railroad volunteers, you can expect dual steam on our railroad this summer! While it won’t be possible to run steam on every day of train operations, look for it during a couple of major events along with a collection of additional showings.
A 100-plus year-old freshly restored carousel, still operable under steam. Concerts to match a healthy variety of tastes. Dual steam locomotives pounding the rails, their smoke piercing the sky. Indeed, we’ve got “big and extra-fun” this year!