Dakota Days, an annual tradition at USD, has been around for 108 years and there have been many different traditions and styles since it first began.
D-Days was first organized on Nov. 20, 1914 by the 9th President of USD Robert Lincoln Slagle as a way to help promote “campus spirit and harmony.” However, at that time there were only two events instead of a week-long celebration.
D-Days was held only on Nov. 20. Everyone was involved in a parade that gathered on campus in front of East Hall and made their way through Vermillion. The first D-Days was also the start of Royalty. The first Miss Dakota was Fern Wasem. A Mr. Dakota was not named until 1986.
Going forward in time to 1930, D-Days started to become longer than just a day as USD appointed eight committee members to plan entertainment and accommodations for those attending the homecoming festivities. The year 1930 also marked the first time in the history of D-Days where distinguished guests of the university were able to view the parade from a viewing stand. Eva Nelson from Elk Point was elected as Miss Dakota who led the parade of more than 100 floats.
Jumping to 1965, the annual D-Days celebration was postponed by two weeks due to complications with the football team the Coyotes were planning to play. An epidemic of infantile paralysis forced the Carleton football team to cancel their trip to Vermillion, and left the Coyotes searching for a new Homecoming opponent. USD ended up playing against the University of North Dakota and Ruth Ellwein was crowned Miss Dakota Days.
Going into 1992, The Dakota Days had three performances throughout the week from USD students who attended the school at the time Toby Kane and Monte Amende had a duet group called The McCallaster Brothers, then the Tower of Power which brought funk, Jazz and rhythm to USD and lastly Jake Johnannsen, a comedian came and performed in the Slagle Auditorium with Julie Jarding and Steven Ring crowned Miss and Mr. Dakota Days.
And lastly, in 2002, students Lauri Kruse and Kristin Olinger were co-chairpersons for the Dakota days committee, with more than 100 people total involved in the planning and preparing the campus for dakota days week which had a budget of $11,000 dollars. When it came to the annual Dakota Days Parade nearly 20 organizations were registered for the parade. Meredith Auld Brokaw was the parade Marshal who crowned Betsy Eide Sage as Miss Dakota and Joseph Holt as Mr. Dakota.
Throughout the course of Dakota Day’s history, traditions have changed to create memorable and exciting events for students but one thing has remained the same, the celebration of USD.