Every June 5, South Dakotans celebrate 605 Day. The unofficial “holiday” was dreamed up by the South Dakota Department of Tourism in 2016 as a way to engage residents and encourage them to share their pride for the state. South Dakota is one of only twelve states with a single area code (605), a number that has become synonymous with our culture, so choosing a date to show appreciation for this place we call home was a no-brainer: June 5 (6/05) it was!
The annual celebration was low-key at first, but is picking up steam as it heads into its fifth year. People are urged to pay tribute on social media by using the hashtag #605Day, and businesses are encouraged to get involved and plan their own events. Organizations interested in participating can pick up some great ideas here.
The Evergreen Media staff has diverse backgrounds. Some were born and raised here, while others are recent transplants. One thing we all have in common, though, is a shared love and appreciation for our great state. We took the time to answer a few questions about our South Dakota experiences and impressions. In honor of 605 Day, we’d like to share what brought us here and what we love best about South Dakota, and clear up some common misconceptions from people unfamiliar with the state.
Jay Eining // An Up-and-Coming Area
Jay is a South Dakota native, having been born in Huron. He lived in other spots around the state, including Madison and Pierre, but none were a good fit. He was preparing to move to Arizona when a college friend in Rapid City convinced him to come check the area out. Jay had never spent much time in the western part of the state, but after visiting, “Rapid City swept me off my feet. It felt like an up-and-coming city that had a vibe I didn’t have to move across the country for.” Like many others, he appreciates the friendly and approachable people — that classic “Midwest nice.”
Jay would like to dispel the notion that country music is the only thing South Dakotans enjoy listening to.
Meghan Rose // Space to Relax
Meghan was born and raised in east river, living in Yankton, Watertown, Sioux Falls, Vermillion, and now she calls Rapid City home. She likes the balance within the state. “We truly have it all here!” Outdoor adventures and rich history in the west, an urban downtown in the east, and plenty of space to relax in between.
“Honestly, I enjoy the misconceptions,” she shares.” I think every one of them is exaggerated one way or another but exaggerations are true to some extent, right? Every state has them and that’s what makes it fun!”
John Edwards // More than a Flyover State
John was born and raised in London, England, but moved to South Dakota in 2014 when Evergreen lured him to the MidWest. He’s been with us ever since, and even opened the UK branch of Evergreen Media in 2020 when his family moved back to England. He considers the wide-open spaces, slower pace of life, and tranquility as highlights of living here, pointing out the small communities within communities and neighborhoods that are safe and welcoming. The outdoors are a fundamental way of life here, with an endless variety of options ranging from adventurous to relaxed and casual.
“People should appreciate there is so much more to the Midwest than the chance to fly over it,” he says. “More than the renowned monuments and flat farmlands; there are so many amazing stories and unexpected ‘real American’ sights to see.”
Jenna Johnson // More than the Wild West
Jen was born in Pierre and never lived anywhere else until moving to Vermillion to attend the University of South Dakota. After graduating, she wanted to spread her wings and live someplace other than Pierre. She had fond memories of family trips to the Black Hills while growing up, so she decided to try her luck out west. Jen says there is so much to love about South Dakota, especially the friendliness of the people (this is a common theme), and appreciates the variety of things to see and do, as well as the natural beauty of the Black Hills.
“People that have never been here think that we’re a bunch of cowboys and rednecks,” she says. “We’re not all!”
Chris Valencia // Beauty of the Hills
Chris was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado and moved around a bit. He grew up in Wyoming and attended college there. He ended up in Rapid City in 2009, and has called the area home ever since. Like most of us, he is enamored with the beauty of the Black Hills.
Chris is amused that many of his friends think there are cowboys in South Dakota. “Nope,” he says. “Real cowboys come from Wyoming!”
Jesse Brown Nelson // Discovering the Truth
Jesse was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, though his mom is originally from Rapid City. The family returned when he was just a few months old, and he has lived here ever since. His favorite parts about South Dakota are the lack of people and unique landscapes—not surprising given his penchant for wilderness photography in some of the region’s lesser-traveled spots.
Jesse has heard that South Dakota is all flat and everybody is a farmer…neither of which are true.
Sydnee Dormann // Ditch the Cowboy Boots
Sydnee was born and raised here in Rapid City. She moved to Brookings to attend SDSU, but packed up and moved to Spearfish to finish up her degree at home in the Black Hills. She originally interned for Evergreen Media for a couple summers, and then decided to make it permanent after graduating from Black Hills State. Her favorite part of living in the hills? “There’s so much to do here,” she says. “We have a wide variety of activities for everyone. Outdoor patio in the summer? I’m there. I love that it’s just a quick trip to go camping in the hills, spend the day at the lake, or play tourist for a day.”
Sydnee has heard people say that everyone in South Dakota is a cowboy or a rancher, but she says, “I in fact have never worn cowboy boots.”
Avery Thomas // A Pleasant Surprise
Avery was born and raised in Maryland and went to college in Virginia for two years. She moved to South Dakota last summer when her parents relocated to Rapid City. So far, she says the people are the best part of living here. “South Dakotans are so friendly and laid back,” she says, “especially compared to the ‘go, go, go’ mentality of Marylanders. There’s also a sense of community here that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.” It seems she’s right at home here in the Black Hills.
When her family moved her, Avery was constantly hearing complaints about winter in the hills. Turns out it’s not as bad as it was made out to be: “Snow usually melts within a day or two here,” she says, “while snow in Maryland will stick around for weeks.” After a mild winter this year, we’ll update again next year and see if she’s changed her mind.
Ashley Johnson // A Long Journey Home
Ashley was born and raised in southeastern Wyoming, but spent summers growing up here in the Black Hills visiting family. After over a decade in the Air Force and moving all over the country, she and her husband decided to settle down in Rapid City. “I always loved coming up here as a kid, and my family has since moved to Custer, so it was really a no-brainer,” she says. “Rapid is the perfect size to have all the amenities we need, and you can’t beat the beauty of the Black Hills and all of the outdoor adventures.”
“I always thought everything here was too small and spread out as a kid,” she says. “Turns out, a lot of the towns are a lot bigger than I thought, and there’s so much to do even in the winter.”