VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) – USD students and alumni look forward to their homecoming week every year, but Dakota Days is going to look a little different this year.
Dakota Days at USD kicks off on Sunday and the school is working to reimagine some old traditions and incorporate a new one.
Something being introduced this year is the Yote Yard. Fans are decorating their yards for a chance to win some USD prizes. Joni Freidel is the director of scholarship administration at USD but is also known throughout town as a die-hard Coyote. Her yard is already decorated for the week.
“One of the things that we miss greatly about D-Days is the opportunity to support the Coyotes, whether it’s volleyball or football or whatever it might be and especially tailgating and just the community that is involved with that, band, the cheerleaders and all the people who come back home for that. So, my daughter suggested we do the wasting away theme and it just kind of morphed from there,” Freidel said.
Freidel is glad USD is working to continue the Dakota Days legacy.
“I love the fact that Vermillion and USD and really the region, it’s a big family and you get to know people and spend time with people that maybe you didn’t go to college with, but once a Coyote, always a Coyote,” Freidel said.
This year, Dakota Days won’t have a football game, parade or tailgate.
“The parade is going to look a little different, I wouldn’t even really call it a parade. We’re going to do ‘Cruisin with the Coyotes’ on Saturday in some communities around Vermillion really to just be present, show people we are still here and we are still thinking about them,” Doug Wagner, the director of student programming, said.
Traditional events like ‘Yotes Got Talent’ and the Dakota Days royalty coronation will still happen, but outdoors.
“I feel like this year we kind of started off very stressful because we just didn’t know what we were getting in to so I think, really, this should be a time where people can kind of feel relaxed and kind of just live it up for a week and then we get back to the real thing again,” Ashley Charlie, the director of coronation for Dakota Days, said.
COVID-19 precautions will still be taken during events, like masks being required for any indoor activities.