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March 26, 2010

Village People to highlight DWU’s 125th anniversary events

Village PeopleMITCHELL — Dakota Wesleyan University has announced its homecoming festivities and special entertainment with one key aspect in mind – it has been 125 years worth celebrating, so they’re doing it with flare.

DWU will culminate a year-long celebration in honor of its 125th anniversary during homecoming this fall with a Blue & White Bash at the Corn Palace with none other than the Village People performing live.

“We were trying to figure out the best way to celebrate our 125th – make it something really special and unique – and the one thing everyone kept repeating was, ‘we have to include our alumni,’ ” said Lori Essig, vice president for university relations. “We have so many wonderful graduates and when we were hashing out entertainment, one of the first groups to come to mind was the Village People because we have a connection.”

That connection is Jeff Olson, a 1975 DWU alumnus who still has family in Mitchell and has been touring as the Cowboy with Village People since fall of 1980. At DWU he studied biology, history and music and got involved in a band that would be known as Step Child. When the band broke up, he moved to California to pursue music and even acted. He then modeled in the U.S. and Paris before being discovered by a music producer for Village People.

When the notion to invite the Village People as the focal entertainment of the Bash came into play, Essig jumped at the idea and was on the phones with the booking agency.

The Village People have been going strong for 33 years, having first formed in 1977. Some of their most famous songs include, “Y.M.C.A,” “Macho Man,” “Can’t Stop the Music,” “In the Navy,” “Go West” and “Village People.” They still travel internationally doing concerts and festivals and have appeared on the cover of multiple magazines, including Rolling Stone and GQ, and have appeared on several TV shows including 20/20, American Bandstand and Soul Train.

The DWU alumni quartet from the ’60s, The Highlanders, will open for the Village People at 7:30 p.m. with the main event beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $30 for general admission or $320 for a reserved table of eight and go on sale April 17 at the Corn Palace. They will also be available for purchase online at www.cornpalace.com/index.php.

When alumni return to Mitchell for the celebration, they will also find that one of the Corn Palace murals will honor their alma mater’s anniversary. The Corn Palace committee agreed to dedicate one mural to commemorate DWU’s 125th.

“The Corn Palace and DWU have been tightly linked for nearly our entire history,” Essig said. “We have celebrated our other anniversaries and important events there, so it will be memorable to have a dedicated mural.”

The Village People will conclude DWU’s 125th anniversary celebration that kicked off at homecoming 2009.

Other festivities for homecoming include:

  • A Legacy Banquet honoring alumni and donors
  • Alumni reunions
  • A special worship service with the Kugel Choir
  • Fun Run/Walk
  • Blue & White Parade
  • Homecoming football game versus Morningside College

Other events that are scheduled for the semester include a Founders’ Day Speaker on April 8 with Immaculée Ilibagiza, survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide with a speaker series leading up to her talk and a book signing. Later in April, the whole community will embark on a Service Day, at which each student, faculty and staff member will sign up for a community project in Mitchell, as well as the nursing students in Huron in their own community. The Service Day is to commemorate the day the charter was signed creating Dakota Wesleyan University, April 27, 1885.

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Last updated: 3/30/10