President Obama becomes the fourth president to visit all 50 states when he arrives in South Dakota on Friday.
Sure it took our current commander-in-chief seven years to tick every state off the map — a feat former president George H.W. Bush accomplished during his one term in office. And yes, the president is visiting the state to deliver a commencement address at Lake Area Technical College underscoring the importance of college affordability.
"I have now been to all 50 states as president, and I was saving the best for last. To the other 49, I hope you take no offense," the president told the graduates on Friday.
But let’s be honest, you’re probably struggling to come up with facts about the state. Even South Dakota knows it’s kind of like that second cousin twice removed whose name you just can’t place when he shows up at the family reunion.
So we figured we should take some time to learn more about South Dakota.
Here, in no particular order, are our top five favorite facts about the Mount Rushmore state:
“Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?”
South Dakota knows you might not know much about the state — and the state is using that to its advantage in its latest advertising campaign to attract new, young residents. It seems, according to the state’s tourism board, living in South Dakota is a much better alternative than life on a barren, lifeless rock in outer space.
Here’s the transcript of the new tourism ad:
“Mars. The air: not breathable. The surface: cold and barren. But thousands are lining up for a chance to go and never come back.South Dakota. Progressive. Productive. And abundant in oxygen. Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?South Dakota: You can live here.”
The ad is an attempt by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to shake the perception that South Dakota is merely a tourist destination while Mars seems to be climbing in the must-see, bucket list rankings. Previous ad tactics for the state included highlighting the lack of an income tax, with no real success. Now, the state is trying to target young people with a campaign that is already making waves on social media.
They celebrate food, festivals and fights…sometimes all three at the same time.
South Dakota is home to the world famous Mashed Potato Wrestling Contest. Mitchell, South Dakota is home to the world’s only Corn Palace, it’s made of 3,500 bushels of corn.
South Dakota is a history buff’s dream
Two words. Mount Rushmore. Drilling into the 6,200 foot Mt. Rushmore began in 1927 by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. It took him 14 years and cost $1 million. Today, it’s considered priceless. It even has its own Twitter page.
There’s other cool history facts about the state as well. One of largest and most complete skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on earth was excavated near Faith, South Dakota. The tradition of spreading sawdust on the floors of bars began in Deadwood as an effort to hide gold dust that would gather there. Raven Industries in Sioux Falls created the first modern hot air balloon in the late 1950s.
People really do live in South Dakota
Sure, South Dakota may be one of the nation’s least populous states. But plenty of famous folks hail from there as well. Folks like NBC’s Tom Brokaw who graduated from Yankton High School and the University of South Dakota. His great grandfather founded the town of Bristol, South Dakota—home to the Zucchini Festival. Also from South Dakota are Bob Barker, January Jones, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Yet more South Dakota trivia…
For your next trivia night: Pierre, South Dakota is the only combination of state and capital in the U.S. that doesn’t share any letters.