Happy Friday! Megan here.

Weather check: Hot and (potentially) thunderstorm-y

This weekend, I've got some fun feature stories for you. First, you'll hear how social media helped recover a lost kayak. Then, I checked in with Headlights Theater ahead of their fourth season of bringing art to parking garages. Plus, catch a roundup of local events and some Super Simplified Stories.

And now, news:


How a lost kayak found its way home

Simplified: Tyler Northrup was starting to think he'd never see his kayak again after losing it on a special father-son trip with his 15-year-old. But with the help of a viral Facebook post and a friendly farmer, his story has a happy ending.

Tell me more

This wasn't just any kayak. Northrup had spent about 500 hours over the course of an entire winter to build that kayak back in 2010. He later built a second kayak for his wife.

  • Northrup – who, when he's not kayaking serves as technology business partner for Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society – was on a weekend trip with his teenage son, Cole the weekend of June 2 when the kayak was lost.

The two had paddled 30 miles on the Missouri River that day – from around the Fort Randall Dam area to a town called Niobrara, Nebraska – and water levels had been very low.

  • Overnight, though, that changed. And when Northrup woke up on Sunday morning, where there had once been two kayaks, there was only one.
"My heart just fell," Northrup said.

What happened next?

Get the full story here.


Why this theater company chose parking lots as its stage

Simplified: Headlights Theater started as a way to safely perform during the pandemic. Now entering its fourth season, Here’s a look at how the nonprofit is taking a unique, collaborative approach to making performance art accessible.

Why it matters

  • Director Madison Elliott moved back to Sioux Falls – her hometown – from New York in search of a way to create paid opportunities for artists during the pandemic. She founded Headlights in 2020 and quickly realized this type of theater had longevity past the pandemic.
  • Since its launch, Headlights has done 16 performances with dancers from across the country alongside local musicians. Shows take place in parking lots, and the location is revealed an hour before the performance.
  • Headlights' mission is to transform boring parking lots into creative spaces, and the company also works to create theater that is accessible to everyone. Tickets for shows run on a sliding scale, so anyone can come and pay what they're able. The new season will bring four more shows to town with new styles of dance performers and will even expand beyond parking lots, Elliott said.
“But I don’t want to say too much because in order to get it, you have to experience it," Elliot said.

Tell me more about Headlights

And learn how you can support this local theater company.


Super Simplified Stories

  • Good news for Big Sioux. Friends of the Big Sioux River, a nonprofit focused on improving water quality in the river, won the city's nearly $10,000 sustainability grant. That money will be used to develop curriculum for an education project to teach students about the importance of keeping a healthy watershed. Learn more about the nonprofit here.


How a city fundraising effort will bring park improvements to Colton

This is a paid piece for the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.

Simplified: Lights at Redway Park, renovated pool bathhouses and more park improvements are coming to Colton after an overwhelmingly successful city-led fundraising campaign.

Why it matters

  • Colton Mayor Trevor Bunde set a goal to raise about $10,000 to install lights at Redway Park. Community sponsors went above and beyond, raising more than double that amount for a total of $21,500 – and counting.
  • That funding will be used for the lights, as well as improvements to dugouts, a new concession stand, renovated pool bathhouses and a pool shuttle to help transport kids from Crooks to the Colton pool.
  • With new lights, the Tri-Valley School District will be able to host baseball games at the park, which will also bring more traffic to Colton businesses like TJz Bar & Restaurant, where owner Kathy Lamer said she's already seen more customers as a result.
“Colton is an inspiration for other communities looking to increase the amount of resources available locally,” said Jesse Fonkert, president and CEO of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.  

How did this all come together?

Find the full story here.


Stuff to do: June 16-22

  • Peep some birds. The Outdoor Campus is hosting an "Intro to Birding" class for families from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Learn how to identify local birds, and even try it out for yourself. Registration info here.
  • Hit the (mini) links. The 6th Annual Pars and Pubs event downtown combines a pub crawl and a mini golf course starting at 11 a.m. Saturday. Teams go from bar to bar to play custom-made mini golf holes. Event details and registration here.
  • Do do do do do dooo do do do "MUM!" Bluey's Big Play is coming to the Washington Pavilion on Wednesday and Thursday. See a live performance of your kids' (and let's be real, your) favorite animated Australian cattle dog. Tickets available here. (And yes, I'm taking my toddler.)
  • Catch some cool art. DaDa Gastropub is hosting its free summer art show, The Lot, starting 6 p.m. Friday in the restaurant's parking lot. Find more details here.
  • Celebrate small towns. It's a busy weekend in the region. Tea is hosting its annual Teapot Days with a parade, fireworks and much more. Find the full schedule here. And, over in Hartford, it's Jamboree Days, with events including a car show, live music, inflatables and more. Find the schedule for that event here. It's also Jesse James Days in Garretson with a parade, road race and more. That schedule's here.
  • Connect with the community. Meet members of the Sioux Falls community and talk about building trust and relationships on Wednesday at a Sioux Falls Community Connections event. There will be food and games available. Details here.


What I'm falling for this weekend:

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Reach out

What story do you want to see simplified? Falling for something local? Send any news tips, attaboys, missed typos or your favorite Bluey episode to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Barre3 Sioux Falls, Midco, the Great Plains Zoo, the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, Selah Space and Silverstar Car Wash. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.