Sprucing up Sisseton for its Quasquicentennial
Sisseton, South Dakota was incorporated on April 15, 1892, which means the charming town on the northern edge of the Coteau des Prairies is now 125 years old. The town will celebrate this important milestone and its rich history with a weekend of fun festivities planned for July 14-16.
People of all ages will enjoy the wide range of revelry planned during the Sisseton 125th celebration, including concerts, helicopter and pony rides, bean bag and golf tournaments, a parade, fireworks and more.
The city has prioritized a number of projects aimed at distinguishing and beautifying the town in preparation for the influx of visitors. This includes welcome signs, grants to improve business facades and public works of art.
The Chamber of Commerce raised more than $40,000 for new “Welcome to Sisseton” signs. The cheerful signage and updated landscaping will greet visitors as they enter town from the east and west on South Dakota Highway 10
The Sisseton Economic Development Corporation also set up a grant program to help business owners improve the exterior of their buildings. The program, which offered 50 percent reimbursement for projects (up to $2,500), exceeded expectations, according to SEDC Executive Director Sandi Jaspers.
Jaspers says SEDC received about three times more applications than it expected. “It was hard to choose so we found a way to award them all and give everybody the opportunity,” she says.
Twenty-six projects have been completed so far. The business enhancements are valued at $176,000, including $51,500 in grant funds from SEDC and the City of Sisseton’s Promotion Board. Businesses took on projects small and large. Examples of improvements include replacing uneven sidewalks, repairing windows, re-siding and fixing porches.
“The projects not only improved the appearance of businesses, but provided jobs for local construction workers and increased sales for local lumberyards and hardware stores!” says Jaspers.
In addition to practical aesthetic upgrades, the Sisseton community welcomed the expertise of visual artist Markus Tracy this spring. Tracy, known for site-specific murals, spent four weeks in town as the Artist-in-Community completing two stunning public art projects. Both will be on display for all visitors to see during the 125-year celebration.
Tracy conceived of the projects, which tie in local history and culture, after spending time getting to know the community through public meetings and discussions. One involves a high-traffic crosswalk and the other a local landmark theater that has been shuttered for seven years.
Tracy painted the crosswalk along Veterans Avenue, the main artery of town, with colorful design elements drawn from the area’s Native American and Scandinavian culture. He’s also created an art installation to be displayed on the front façade of the Siston Theater. At designated times, passers by will see a series of images related to Sisseton’s natural landscape and cultural heritage projected on the window and doors beneath the theater’s marquee.
Funding from GROW South Dakota, the Sisseton Arts Council, the South Dakota Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts made this creative placemaking in Sisseton possible.
These highly visible public artworks will not only be a boon to the 125th year celebration, they will instill a renewed sense of pride in the community. The projects contribute to the revitalization of the downtown district, ultimately enhancing area economic growth and encouraging Sisseton to thrive well into the future century.
Sisseton is a member of the South Dakota Prairie Gateway, a portal for economic development information in Eastern Rural Communities of South Dakota.