User uShare Login | Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.

43° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options



Share your Photos, Videos, and Stories on uShare! Click here to get started. | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!


Planning 100 Years Of Hobo Day

September 10, 2012, 10:16 PM by Brady Mallory

Planning 100 Years Of Hobo Day

When you hear the marching band, see the crowds and take in the sense of school spirit, remember that it takes a year of planning to make it all happen.

"My favorite moment of every Hobo Day is about 9:30 a.m.  We're standing on Medary Avenue; the parade is on the street.  The Pride of the Dakotas marching band heads south on Medary toward Woodbine Cottage to perform for the president and the parade has begun," Director of Student Engagement Director Nick Wendell said.

If you take the time to track Hobo Day to its beginning, you will find there is much more to the celebration than what you see and hear.

"Hobos rode the rails and so in the early part of the 20th Century, Hobos were a prevalent part of the American as was rail travel," Wendell said.

Brookings was one of many towns that were railroad hubs.  Like the railroads, Hobo-centric celebrations were present in many places throughout the country.  A strong school tradition, however, was absent from South Dakota State University.  A student brought back this concept from University of Missouri, and SDSU's Hobo Day was born in the fall of 1912. 

"Initially, there was some resistance from administrators and community leaders that Hobo Day wasn't the most appropriate way to celebrate our university.  Over time, the community and the institution really embraced Hobo Day," Wendell said.

Similar celebrations have faded, and now SDSU's Hobo Day is the only one celebrated at a university/higher education facility.  Each year is important, but the stakes are especially high for October 27, which marks the 100 Years of Hobo Day.  Wendell and Abby Settje, the Grand Pooba, are focusing on what made Hobo Day the biggest one-day event in the Dakotas.  Beloved gems like Bum Olympics to Bum-A-Meal, where students dressed as hobos to get a free meal from someone in town, are week-long events leading up to the big day.  A 1912 Model T Ford is also a popular nod to a storied past.

"We always like to think people love us.  In all reality, it's the Bummobile," Settje said.

A former Grand Pooba himself, and involved for last ten years, Wendell said the 100 years of Hobo Day is not just about nostalgia.

"But also find new and fresh ways to invigorate the student base because ultimately the beauty of Hobo Day is it always has been student run and it's always been a student-centered celebration and I think that's why it's remained fresh and why it is still here," Wendell said.

It is, at its heart, a way to bring students together and better link them to the university.  Plus, when else it is acceptable to do this:

"There's bumover.  Students are invited to one of the greens on campus to build little shanties out of cardboard, kind of like a hooverville with burn barrels, music.  It is kind of like an outdoor festival," Settje said.

Students, faculty and alumni have all been working together on ideas like these to ignite school pride at SDSU and all over the state.  Over the years, participation has fluctuated, and a riot more than 20 years ago left a bad taste in a lot of mouths.  However, the true spirit of the Hobo Day is alive and very well.

"It's not like being a bum and being lazy or anything like that.  When the university picked it up, it was because hobos truly were hard workers and they didn't travel down the same path as everyone else.  They kind of paved their own way.  Didn't conform to society.  They chose their own life," Settje said.

Hobo Day, or sometimes referred to as Hobo Days, which makes Settje cringe, is on October 27 when the Jackrabbits play against Youngstown State of Ohio.  Settje hopes the staying power of the 100 Years of Hobo Day carries over into the next century.

"We're still celebrating it.  It's still the biggest one day event in the Dakotas and I think part of that is taking those timeless traditions and making sure you are still carrying them through today," Settje said.

But what it accomplishes for those who live for it every year is much bigger than any span of time.

Previous Story

Next Story


Find Local Businesses on KELO Pages!

View featured stories

You may also like

Trooper Steen's Road To Recovery

4/14/2014 10:11 PM

In uniform and behind the wheel, South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Andrew Steen has returned to the job he left 18 months ago after he was seriously...

Full Story | Watch
Ziolkowski Fights Cancer & Reflects On Crazy Horse Legacy

4/10/2014 9:58 PM

Ruth Ziolkowski has led operations at the Crazy Horse Memorial since 1982, but now the 87-year-old says she only has a short time to live as she battl...

Full Story | Watch
Inside KELOLAND: What's Next For Sioux Falls?

4/13/2014 2:30 PM

Following decades of debate, the city of Sioux Falls is one step closer to an indoor pool. But there's still a lot of work that needs to be done b...

Full Story | Watch
Ice Storm Anniversary

4/11/2014 10:00 PM

One year ago, Sioux Falls experienced one of the worst natural disasters it's ever seen.  A devastating ice storm hit the city and it took mo...

Full Story | Watch
North Rapid Residents Fight Community's Bad Rap

4/9/2014 10:04 PM

Hard news happens in North Rapid City.  It doesn't get much harder than the 2011 shootout that left two city police officers dead, a third se...

Full Story | Watch


KELOLAND TV: 501 S. Phillips Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Phone: 605.336.1100 · Breaking News call: 1-800-888-5356
Web Site Design and Custom Programming By: Lawrence & Schiller© 2014 KELO-TV -- KELOLAND.COM -- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED