Monday, October 14, area residents have a chance to take part in the second annual “Spoken History Cemetery Tour” at Vermillion’s Bluff View Cemetery.
The theme of this year’s event, which is being sponsored by the Clay County Historic Society (CCHS), is “A County of Culture.” The tour will highlight six Clay County residents buried in Bluff View Cemetery who contributed greatly to the culture of the county. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 at the cemetery.
“We all add something to our communities, whether it’s big or small,” said Wess Pravacek, director of the Austin Whittemore House and a member of the CCHS. “With this tour, we really want people to learn more about people, be they poets or painters or musicians, who helped make Clay County what it is today. Of course, these folks didn’t have a clue at the time about what they would contribute. … It’s just kind of fun to think about their lives and what they did and then to think about what we ourselves are contributing to our communities.”
Monday’s tour will begin at the gates of Bluff View Cemetery. From there, attendees will be divided into groups to visit six graves where actors dressed in period costumes will bring the stories of six prominent residents to life. Each presentation will be five to 10 minutes in length.
“[The characters] will talk about their talent, what they did to contribute to the county,” said Pravacek. “They will speak about not only the person’s history, why they came here, what brought them here, but also share some interesting facts about themselves and how they were instrumental in the county.”
The full list of those being featured this year will be a surprise, but among this year’s highlighted individuals is longtime USD Professor and painter Oscar Howe.
Tickets for the cemetery tour, which cost $10 each, must be purchased in advance in order to allow for adequate planning, said Pravacek. Get yours at the Austin-Whittemore House, at the Vermillion Beauty Shop, or at the W.H. Over Museum.
The cemetery tour is a fundraiser for the Clay County Historical Society. Last year, for the inaugural tour, 80 people participated. This year, Pravacek is hoping for another great turnout.
“Last year, we hoped for 20 and had 80,” said Pravacek. “We were really pleased. This year, we hope even more people will come out and enjoy the tour.”
Due to its success last year, the Clay County Historical Society Board has made the Spoken History Cemetery Tour an annual event. The board has already mapped out plans for tours for the next four to five years, Pavacek said.
“We have decided to hold the tour in October on Native American Day every year, so people will know when it will always be,” she said. “We have a four to five year layout for the tours. Next year, since it’s a political year, we will be focusing on politics in Clay County.”
Following this year’s tour, members of the Bluff View Cemetery Board will be serving refreshments at the cemetery.
Those planning to participate in the tour should wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for walking as this year’s tour is spread out throughout the cemetery. The walk will be beautiful, said Pravacek.
“This is not a goulish thing,” said Pravacek. “The cemetery is a beautiful, peaceful place. It’s the final resting place for many. Just the beauty of the cemetery alone is worth a visit. There are so many works of art in the headstones alone! If people haven’t visited the cemetery before, we urge them to come and be part of this educational experience!”
For more information, contact Wess at 605-624-8266.