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Trail of Governors in Pierre nears completion

After the unveiling ceremony was canceled in 2020, the Trail of Governors is nearing completion, up to the current governor, by the year 2022.
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 6:20 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - There have been thirty-three governors in South Dakota history, and nearly all of them are memorialized with a bronze statue in Pierre.

However, outside of the current governor, six from years past are still missing.

“We had our first unveiling in 2012, and that has gone on every year since that time,” said Chuck Schroyer Board Member to the Trail of Governors Foundation. “On one occasion we did four statues.”

The project is largely privately funded, much of the money coming from previous governors friends, cabinet members, and family. For some of the older governors, it can make fundraising for the project more difficult.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a large impact on the project, stifling fundraising,
all together canceling the 2020 unveilings, and pushing the unveiling of the remaining six governors back one year.

“There wouldn’t have been a lot of opportunities for families, colleagues, and friends of the governors to attend the function, so we went ahead and canceled last years unveiling,” said Schroyer.

It was not the projects first set back. The first ever unveiling of statues, originally scheduled for the summer of 2011, was moved back to the following summer due to severe flooding in the Pierre area.

After three new statues are introduced this year, and another three in 2022, the foundation will begin holding unveiling ceremonies for the one outgoing governor after they leave office.

“It is important to preserve that history, and talk about our prior leaders of South Dakota that brought South Dakota to where it is today,” said Tina Van Camp, Secretary to the Trail of Governors Foundation.”

South Dakota is the only state in the country to pay tribute to its former chief executives in such a way. Each statute is intended to uniquely reflect that former governor’s life, time in office, and personality.

“Its art, its history, its education,” said Van Camp. “It ties all those things together beautifully.”

The next unveiling ceremony will take place Friday, June 11th, at 10 AM in the State Capitol Rotunda. The event will be open to the public. The following day, the annual “Run with the Govs” race will take place in Pierre.

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