SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — If you have a story to share about Sioux Falls, an online publishing company wants to hear from you. Belt Publishing is putting out a call for authors to write about the city’s past as part of a book that will come out next year.
The national political spotlight shined brightly on Sioux Falls back on Election Night in 1972. Senator George McGovern and his supporters gathered in the city as the voting results came in, showing a landslide victory for President Richard Nixon. McGovern’s unsuccessful campaign for the White House still has a strong literary resonance with Augustana University English professor Danny Gerling.
“Cities like to tell their stories, specifically, stories of uplift and happy stories, but there are also stories that aren’t so happy that need to be told, as well. And it’s not like this was entirely negative either. George McGovern is still a statewide hero,” Gerling said.
Gerling is writing about McGovern’s Election Night in Sioux Falls as part of an anthology delving into the city’s past.
“We’re hoping that when it’s published, people will buy it, read it, and find out things they didn’t even know about this place they call home,” Co-editor Patrick Hicks said.
The working title is called The Queen City: A Sioux Falls Anthology. The project came together over beers and some brainstorming in downtown Sioux Falls.
“My co-editor, Jon Lauck and I met for beer downtown on Phillips Avenue and it was his idea. He said why don’t we have the largest city in South Dakota be part of this and the more we talked about it, we got a piece of scrap paper and started to scribble ideas for topics of this anthology,” Hicks said.
Blogger Grant Wentzel is writing about Sioux Falls’ infamous reputation as the Divorce Capital of America during the lax residency requirements at the end of the 19th century.
“So all of a sudden, you’ve got a small prairie town, but you’re inundated by dozens, perhaps hundreds, of well-heeled New Yorkers, Bostonians, people from all over, here to live for three months to get that divorce. And while they’re here, they had very little to do, but spend money and throw parties and have a good time. Must have been a fun time to be here,” Wentzel said.
Augustana University Provost Colin Irvine is writing about Columbus College, an early 20th century men’s Catholic school which went out of business and is now the site of the VA hospital.
“Augustana was following a parallel path. We persisted and thrived. And I’m curious as to what happened. How is it one continued, and the other one didn’t,” Irvine said.
But you don’t have to be an academic to contribute to this book project. They’re also looking for submissions of personal stories of how Sioux Falls has impacted your life.
“We’re taking, I would call them micro essays, maybe 250 words, 500-word essays about things they maybe might remember, the Western Mall, when it opened up, or some expansion to the south, we’d be interested in that. We’re interested in a limited amount of poetry. We have one person who’s writing a short-story for us,” Hicks said.
Hicks says writers have already staked claims to 75% of the book’s content. Of all the Midwestern cities featured in this national series, Sioux Falls would be the smallest. But the goal is to leave a big historical impression on readers.
“I think it’s going to be fun and illuminating to find out what those stories were that have been sort of buried under the archaeology of time,” Hicks said.
The book is expected to come out in late 2021. Writers have until December 1 of this year to submit proposals for inclusion in the book. If you have something to offer, click here