Big weekend ahead

Gray Hughes

Editor's note: this story has been updated since it ran in print to refect changes due to weather.


This weekend is going to be a big weekend in Hill City.

On Saturday, the annual Tour de Chocolate will be held in town along with a book signing at Heart of the Hills Antiques for a new book of images by photographer Jeffrey S. Dale and a legislative crackerbarrel featuring District 30 Rep. Tim Goodwin. Saturday night, Open Stage will be held at High Country Guest Ranch, and on Sunday the Hill City Senior Center will holds its monthly breakfast. The Polar Bear Chili Cook-off, which was set to be held Saturday, has been postponed to Feb. 27.

“We can’t wait to welcome our friends, neighbors and guests this Valentine’s Weekend,” said Janet Wetovick-Bily, executive director of the Hill City Area of Commerce. “This year, Hill City, these events and their symbolism are special: not only is this an opportunity to get outside in our crisp cold air to safely enjoy chili, chocolate and fun in the Heart of the Hills, it’s a time where after a year of pandemic, we can re-connect with feelings of joy, happiness and love. That’s what people have been craving — connection — and that is why we are likely seeing so many businesses participating in the Tour de chocolate and competing in the Polar Bear Chili Cook-off.”

Tour de Chocolate is an annual event — this is the ninth edition — that is coordinated by Turtle Town. The event features chocolate samplings all over town at over 25 participating locations.

The Tour de Chocolate was started by several Main Street businesses to help get the word out that Hill City is open year-round, said April Purdie, general manager at Turtle Town in Hill City.

“We do have several businesses that are open most of the week each week all winter long, and that was a great way for us to tie in chocolate with Valentines Day and to get people to come out to Hill City and visit us more,” she said.

This year, Turtle Town is offering a port chocolate truffle along with a sale. Other businesses are offering sale prices on specific items and will have chocolate out “in one form or another.”

Chocolate, she said, is what binds the event together. Some places will offer things like hot chocolate or spicy chocolate cookies.

The event, which is always held on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, is always well received, Purdie said.

“The chocolate and getting people in here to see what we have to offer,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of places that don’t encourage people to come in now that we’re in the pandemic. It’s kind of, you know, like, touch and go on that, but as long as you are following safety protocols we’re OK with you coming in here and visiting us at our store. Most of the businesses, I feel, are that way, as well.”

Events like this are very important because it lets the general population know that there are businesses open in Hill City year-round.

“It’s just a great way for everyone to come out and go shopping and find that perfect little gift for their significant other or if they are just out shopping just because, too, it’s a great little way,” she said.

The book signing at Heart of the Hills Antiques is sponsored by the South Dakota State Railroad Museum and the Journey Museum and will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The book, entitled “Kyrkje of...An Unorthodox Translation of ‘Church’ in Photographs” contains photographic imagery captured from around the world and displays them for the reader to contemplate. The book, too, also discusses the many aspects of what went into creating the photos. The book strives to inspire readers to examine their own thoughts and perceptions of the scenes in the book and beyond to the greater world of imagery they see.

Proceeds will go to benefit both the South Dakota State Railroad Museum and the Journey Museum.

A legislative crackerbarrel sponsored by the Hill City Prevailer News will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Come talk to District 30 Rep. Tim Goodwin about the issues facing the state and pending legislation. Refreshments will be served.

Open Stage will be held at High Country Guest Ranch that night. A meal featuring roast beef, pork tenderloin, potatoes and gravy, vegetables, salad, rolls and dessert will be served at 5:30 p.m. Music featuring Kim Plender and the Cue Balls, Sheryl Cederburg, The Rusty Strings Band and Mark Williams will be performed starting at 6 p.m.

Finally, from 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday the Hill City Senior Center will hold its monthly breakfast.

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