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National Park’s 100th Birthday Celebrations Planned Across South Dakota

South Dakota Public Broadcasting

The National Park Service‘s 100th anniversary is this August. South Dakota is home to five sites in the National Parks system.

Each location is doing something different this summer to celebrate 100 years of service, and many are looking ahead at what the next 100 years holds.

Concerts, museum exhibits and handmade quilt displays are just a few of the events during the centennial celebration at the National Parks across South Dakota.

Tom Farrell is with Wind Cave National Park. He says Wind Cave is using the National Park’s 100th birthday as a way to reach out to different age groups.

“Well we’re looking at the Centennial as an opportunity to connect with the younger generation while energizing our friends that have been with us for many years and so we feel that this is an excellent opportunity to kind of pause and look back on a history and also plan for the next generation,” says Farrell.

Farrell says Wind Cave is connecting with younger generations by offering free passes into the cave for every fourth grader and their family.

Another site in the Black Hills also sees the centennial as a way to look toward the future. Riley Hays is a park ranger at Jewel Cave National Monument.

“The centennial to me is not about the last 100 years but as much as it is about the next 100 years and how we’re going to keep doing this really important work that we’re doing and that’s the message that we’re trying to relay to visitors is that we’re not going anywhere, and it’s really, really important that they come out especially during the centennial year, see what the National Parks are all about and foster an appreciation for those resources whether it’s across the country on vacation or perhaps a national park that’s in their own backyard,” says Hays.
Hays adds that during the months of July and August the monument is hosting events focusing on expanding kids’ knowledge of the wildlife surrounding Jewel Cave.

Badlands National Park , Mount Rushmore and and Minuteman Missile Site are also hosting celebrations for the centennial.

Christine Czazasty, with Badlands National Park, says that celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service includes thinking about the memories national parks help create.

 “Just what values national park areas have to the country, everything from, of course, our resources that we protect but also the stories that national parks have to tell,” says Czazasty.

Czazasty says the Badlands will put on a series of concerts to commemorate the centennial, and that visitation has increased this year, something she contributes to the National Parks 100th birthday promotions.

Mount Rushmore's celebrations include showcasing unique artwork.

Maureen McGee-Ballinger of Mount Rushmore National Memorial  says large quilt blocks, each made by an artist who chose their own favorite National Park, including  Mount Rushmore, are on display now.

“There are thirteen quilt blocks representing parks from Hawaii volcanoes to Statue of Liberty. We will have them all on display the entire month of July, well, all the way up until the last week in July, and there’ll be a little explanation by the artist, why they chose that particular site and a little bit of information about that park. So all you’d have to do is come to Mount Rushmore, go to the Lincoln-Borglum Visitor Center, and enjoy the art,” says McGee-Ballinger.

McGee-Ballinger adds that a duct tape art exhibit will also go on display come August.

To find out more about National Park's centennial celebration click here.