Fourth of July events scheduled

Jason Ferguson

Custer’s celebration of Independence Day will begin Saturday and will run through Monday with a variety of activites for people of all ages.
The fun starts Saturday, July 2, with the Old Time Country Fair arts and crafts fair which will take place at the 1881 Courthouse Museum. The fair will open at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. At 7 p.m. there will be a Veterans Tribute Street Dance in front of Veterans Memorial Park, featuring the music of Ja’net Eastman and the South Highway 85 Band. The dance will run until 11 p.m.
The dance will be a free will donation, and beer and food are available to purchase. No coolers are allowed, but lawn chairs are welcome.
The fair returns the following day, Saturday, July 3, again from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. That same day marks the start of the Children’s Fair at Way Park, beginning at noon and running until 4 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include bouncy houses, face painting and more.
At 2 p.m., “Home Sweet Home,” a drama-concert, will be performed at Veterans Memorial Park.
“Home Sweet Home” is a dramatic and heart-rending journey through music and drama that explores the mysteries of the heart during the tragic years of the Civil War. Charles Farruggia, actor and baritone, will perform roles of both Union and Confederate soldiers, depicting the heartbreak, the longing for home and the anguish over the “glorious cause.” He will sing songs of the Civil War, including “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground,” “Shenandoah,” and “Home Sweet Home.” Kathryn Mientka Farruggia will depict, with her piano, the loved ones left behind. She will perform virtuoso piano works by Gottschalk that were composed during the Civil War, as well as works by Schumann, Liszt and others. This is a show for everyone of all ages.
There is a large slate of activities scheduled for July 4, which will again begin with the craft fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The children’s fair will reopen at Way Park at 11 a.m. and last until 4 p.m. that day, as well.
Also at 10 a.m. on that day is the Kids’ Parade, which will be immediately followed by the Patriots’ Parade in downtown Custer. The parade will run down Mt. Rushmore Road from 8th Street to 4th Street. The parades will be kicked off by a flyover by a B-1 Bomber from Ellsworth Air Force Base.
July 4 will also feature “Patriot Alley,” a one-stop shop for veterans to get information on all of the services available to them.
Patriot Alley will be located at the intersection of Mt. Rushmore Road and 6th Street. It will open immediately following the parades and run until 4 p.m. Among the entities scheduled to be on hand at Patriot Alley are Custer County Veteran Service Officer Todd Fish, South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs, South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs Mobile Vets Center, Veterans Affairs Mobile Benefits Outreach, Veteran Upward Bound Education Representative, Midwest Honor Flights, Crazy Horse Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, Custer VFW Post 3442, Custer American Legion Post 46, Sons of the American Legion and recruiting stations for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.
Patriot Alley will also feature the “Patriot Dog” stand, where visitors can make a donation for hot dogs, chips and a drink. The stand will operate from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. or until the food is gone.
The annual flag raising/lowering ceremony will take place at 11 a.m., and will be preceded by the landing of a South Dakota National Guard Black Hawk Helicopter in the grassy space next to the Custer Veterans Memorial. The helicopter will deliver the flag to be used in the flag raising, and will remain parked in the grassy area next to the memorial until around 1 p.m. (as long as it is not needed) for visitors to view and ask questions of the crew. The helicopter will be landed by Custer’s own Dean Suelflow, who is a  Major in the National Guard. This new part of the weekend was brought about by the Veterans Memorial Association and the City of Custer, spearheaded by local veteran Jim Hattervig.
The flag lowering will include  Hattervig reading “This Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash, and a rendition of “America the Beautiful” by Lea Anne McWhorter. There will then be a reading of the meaning of each fold of the flag and a 21-Gun Salute will be followed by the playing of Taps  to retire the colors.
Following the flag retirement the raising of a new flag will take place, as will a salute to veterans. The flag raising ceremony will feature presentation of the flag, a reading of “In Harm’s Way,” Heather Grace singing the National Anthem, followed by closing remarks by Hattervig. Everyone is invited to help lower and raise the flag.
As always, the celebration will conclude with the annual fireworks show, which is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the City of Custer and Custer Volunteer Fire Department. The fireworks are set to begin around 9:30 p.m. at Pageant Hill.
Washington St. will be closed from Dacotah Bank to 5th Street RV Park July 1 until early morning July 4 for the Veterans Tribute Street Dance and the Home Sweet Home Concert.  
Washington Street will also be closed from 6th to 8th streets July 4 from 8-11 a.m. for parade line up.   The northbound lane of 4th Street from Washington St to Mt. Rushmore Road will be closed July 3-4 for the Kids Fair and 4th Street from Mt. Rushmore Road to the alley before Crook Street will be closed for  Old Time Country Fair Craft Show. 6th Street will be closed July 4 from the alley after Washington Street to Mt. Rushmore Road for the Patriots Alley.

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