Small-town celebrations boost business, build community

By Erin Mairose, for SiouxFalls.Business

For a few days each summer, Deb Mergen describes the main street of Dell Rapids as a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting.

Locals and visitors gathered to celebrate Quarry Days June 23-25 with a golf tournament, parade, a tractor pull  competition for kids and other events. Dan Ahlers, president of the Dell Rapids Chamber of Commerce, said the festival has two major effects on the town: a focus on local businesses and community engagement.

Boaters in Dell Rapids at Quarry Days.

“When you have events like this, it brings people out into the community and gets everyone together, whether it’s for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, parade or a street dance,” Ahlers said.

Mergen, owner of Always Your Design quilt shop, doesn’t see a lot of change in her income over the weekend. Most of her customers come from neighboring towns. Quarry Days gives locals, however, an incentive to walk downtown and visit stores they might usually only drive by, she said.

Other businesses like Dairy Queen usually get an uptick of 30 percent in customers over the weekend, Ahlers said.

It’s the level of service, however, that Ahlers believes sets small-town shopping apart as local businesses are eager to showcase their town to new visitors. In the downtown craft and gift store Alliecat Creations, “you might find something that you might not necessarily see anywhere else,” he said.

Putting on events such as Quarry Days requires a team of volunteers to help manage events — like a fishing derby that usually attracts 60 kids, said Ahlers, while the street dance draws a crowd of almost 1,000 people.

The scene is similar in small towns throughout South Dakota during the summer months. Humboldt celebrates Main Street Days, Valley Springs hosts Booster Days and Garretson puts on Jesse James Days, all of which rely on local businesses, churches and clubs to organize events.

Tea’s local festival is Teapot Days, which kicked off June 14 with a barbecue and continued with activities such as a carnival, outdoor concert and 5K race. The festival also includes the crowning of Ma and Pa Teapot to recognize two members of the Tea community.

Along with hosting local events, the town also invites about 50 food and craft vendors to set up booths in the park. Dawn Murphy, Tea’s city finance officer, said that although vendors make sales throughout the festival, the city’s goal isn’t driven by income — it’s focused on the people.

“It’s a lot of work, but in the end you can tell how much people enjoy it and would miss it if it went away,” she said.

Here’s your guide to festivals coming up in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties:


Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, July 2-4

Sunday worship in the park followed by catered meal, Cruise Night, street dance, road race, parade, kiddy tractor pull, car show, quilt show, food, arts and crafts, music, American Legion baseball game, fireworks


Main Street Days, July 7 and 8

Baseball, inflatables, fireworks, car show, parade

Valley Springs

Booster Days, July 7-9

Picnic, fireworks, mud volleyball, kids’ games, cake walk, firefighters’ water fight, parade, Sunday worship in the park


VFW Street Dance, July 15


Hometown Days, July 22


Jubilee Days, July 28-30


Canton Area Car Show, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 30


Worthing Days, Aug. 25-27

Walking-taco supper, beanbag tournament, car show, 5K, parade, kids’ activities, volleyball tournament, parade, bingo, barbecue supper, street dance







Want to stay in the know?

Get our free business news delivered to your inbox.

Small-town celebrations boost business, build community

Here’s your guide to a summer of small-town celebrations.

News Tip

Have a business news item to share with us?

Scroll to top