Creating a tourist destination

Eye on KELOLAND

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (KELO) — It’s tourism season in KELOLAND. 

That means a lot of people may have popular attractions such as Mount Rushmore on their travel agendas this summer. 

But those aren’t the only famous faces you’ll find in KELOLAND. 

Back in 2016, Dignity: of Earth and Sky was installed near Chamberlain. 

Dale Lamphere is the sculptor behind the 50-foot-tall work of art. 

According to Travel South Dakota, the sculpture was a $1 million gift from Norm and Eunabel McKie of Rapid City. 

When Evan and Mary Bachtell started heading back home to Iowa after a vacation in western KELOLAND, they knew the sight seeing wasn’t over just yet. 

“And my uncle was telling me about it and he said, ‘Don’t forget to see Dignity. It’s quite the thing to see,'” Evan Bachtell said. 

Dignity didn’t disappoint. 

“Wow! That’s about the only way to describe it,” Bachtell said. 

The husband and wife are among the many who gaze in awe at the masterpiece. 

Some of those visitors are finding their way into the Quilt Shop on Chamberlain’s Main Street. 

Owner Sonya Kroupa estimates business has picked up about 25-30 percent since Dignity’s arrival. 

Kelli Volk: Where are they coming from?
Kroupa: All over the world. I get a lot of people from France, people from Canada. 

And it continues to lure the locals as well. 

Kroupa steps away from her own shop from time to time just to see Dignity. 

“It’s just us. I’m from here. I love it here and she just means what we are,” Quilt Shop Owner Sonya Kroupa said. 

But local tourism officials say more can be done. 

Chamberlain is across the interstate from the rest area where Dignity stands. 

“Just getting them from the visitors center down on our Main Street is what our goal is now,” Chamberlain-Oacoma Area Chamber of Commerce Operational Manager Rochelle Hopkins said. 

The Chamber is incorporating the popular piece into its new re-branding effort. 

One of the new billboard designs includes a picture of Dignity. 

“We just feel like we don’t have a strong enough presence in the tourism industry, so we’re working on trying to get that out there and get recognized more as a tourist destination,” Hopkins said. 

The town offers several more attractions, including a gallery and gift shop inside the Dakota Indian Foundation. 

Much of the art is made by local talents. 

“The thing of it is you find once you bring people downtown they’re like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t know this was here,'” Dakota Indian Foundation Executive Director Mike Normile said. 

“Chamberlain’s really well-known for their hunting and fishing, but not as well-known for their culture and arts,” Hopkins said. 

That’s the perception they’re trying to change with the re-brand. 

“Chamberlain should be a huge draw. We’re sitting in one of the most beautiful places in South Dakota and we’ve just been overlooked too long,” Hopkins said. 

And they’re hoping Dignity can help guide people toward what the town across I-90 has to offer. 

“We are a diamond in the rough that a lot of people just don’t know about,” Hopkins said. 

Now that the Bachtells know more about the area, they just might be back. 

“It’s really quite beautiful,” Bachtell said. 

Another one of Dale Lamphere’s sculptures is turning heads in KELOLAND.

The Arc of Dreams is being installed in downtown Sioux Falls. 

Crews put up the first half earlier this month. 

The second half arrived over the weekend. 

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