If you’ve moved to Sioux Falls from out-of-state, there might be some phrases you’re hearing that don’t quite make sense. Hopefully this little cheat sheet to some of Sioux Falls’ quirky phrases and odd bits of history helps you feel just as up-to-speed as the folks who grew up here.
East River/West River
South Dakota is divided by the Missouri River, but it’s more than a geographic divide.
- East River folks (including Sioux Falls and everywhere else east of the river) and West River folks (everything west of the river, including the Black Hills and Rapid City) have a rivalry of sorts, similar to how the Minnesota Vikings feel about the Green Bay Packers or how some people prefer Coke and others, Pepsi.
- Yes, this is kind of a made-up, joke-y thing, but you may encounter South Dakotans who take pretty seriously their “West River, Best River” or “East River is the best because of Sioux Falls” stance.
Gigglebees/Wilbur the Coyote
Wilbur the Coyote is an animatronic coyote and local icon from former family restaurant and arcade, Gigglebees.
- Gigglebees was open at the corner of 14th Street and Minnesota Avenue from the mid-80s until 2008. Both Gigglebees and Wilbur have a special place in the hearts of many Sioux Falls ‘90s kids.
Sioux Fallsians are suckers for a good mascot. Mr. Bendo is a large, fiberglass statue of a bearded man holding a tailpipe, and people here love him. Locals even signed his cast when Mr. Bendo was hit by a drunk driver in 2010. He recovered, and now he stands in front of Automotive Brake & Exhaust near 33rd Street and Minnesota Avenue.
Cruising ‘The Loop’
This is one for an older (sorry, Gen X) generation of Sioux Falls. Downtown used to have a very cruise-able loop around 10th and 11th Streets which teens would drive laps around while others loitered about, sometimes committing crimes, per Argus Leader archives.
- This went on from the ‘50s until the “loop” closed in 2003, when the city changed up the traffic pattern and restricted cruising and loitering.
- You’ll still hear folks talking about “cruising the loop,” or, others will talk about how closing the loop was a boon for downtown because, without the loop, there were fewer teens hanging about and vandalizing things.
The failed Zip Feed Mill demolition
You know it today as Cherapa Place on the east bank of downtown, but before Cherapa was built, the Zip Feed Mill stood tall for decades. Its demolition was supposed to be a big event in December 2005, and a big yellow “BOOM!” banner hung from the concrete building.
- The problem? It didn’t go boom.
- Thus, the failed demolition (and photos of the “leaning tower of Sioux Falls”) are cemented in the local lexicon.
The statue of David replica
No, Michelangelo doesn’t have a Sioux Falls connection. But, a bronze replica of the David found a home in Fawick Park in 1971, a gift from Thomas Fawick, a famous Sioux Falls inventor.
The Pomp Room
Long before Sioux Falls had big-name musical acts coming to the Denny Sanford Premier Center, there was the Pomp Room. The carpeted bar and music venue was a downtown hot spot dating back to the mid ‘50s but really gaining notoriety through the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
- Folks still talk about the time Aerosmith stopped by in 1993.
- It closed in 1998, but it’s still talked about. There’s even a Pomp Room documentary in the works.
People confusing Sioux Falls and Sioux City
Look, the two cities are about 90 miles apart with a 50 percent name similarity – it’s bound to happen. But that doesn’t make it any less amusing when celebrities and politicians come here and mess it up.