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KATIE ZERR: Pride on display along ‘Walleye Way’

Years of wishing, dreaming and determination were rewarded Friday when John Lopez brought the cowboy riding walleye sculpture to its permanent home.
“Walleye Up” sits on a pedestal, south of Main Street along Walleye Way. The work is a fascinating piece that depicts the history of Mobridge and the area in incredible detail, all created with metal objects that are familiar to all of us.
The City of Mobridge, already known for its outstanding collection of art, has another piece to anchor that reputation, thanks to the work of a group of ladies who showed through the years that persistence does pay off.
This group of ladies, led by Donna Syverson, Sheila Unterseher and Fay Jackman, not only came up with the plan to bring a John Lopez sculpture to Mobridge, but also raised the funds to pay for it, secured a place for it from the City of Mobridge and got local businessmen involved in creating a home for the unique and beautiful piece.
As one who was able to witness the setting of the sculpture on the concrete pedestal on Friday, I was able to witness what it means to live in small town South Dakota.
First of all, who could ever imagine something as unique as this piece of art? How could one creative mind bring the story of this area to life? Incorporated in this sculpture are depictions of a Native American buffalo hunt, a cattle drive, our rodeo heritage and our prized walleye.
Second, how did this group of determined ladies bring all of the different aspects of this endeavor to fruition with the end game of “Walleye Up” standing tall just across the railroad tracks?
As I watched John direct Kenny Jensen behind the controls of the front loader, maneuvering the sculpture in place, I looked at the faces of Fay and Donna, who were also there to witness the homecoming. Those looks were much more than pride in their accomplishments. It was pride in this community.
Not only did Jensen Rock and Sand donate the concrete for the slab and pedestal, but also donated the time, equipment and expertise in setting the sculpture in place. Brady Faehnrich donated his time and talents in creating the pedestal, Clarence Wipf sent a generator to help with drilling the anchors to the base and recently, Steve Tumbelson has volunteered his time and the supplies and work to seed the grassy area.
But it is not just these individuals. Members of the business community, area organizations and individuals stepped forward when this group of ladies revealed their plan. They donated all of the money it took to purchase the sculpture. No other funds were used.
It was the residents of this area who stepped up, gave their time and money to pay for the piece and make the dream come true.
The enthusiasm of this group of ladies was infectious and their determination in helping to keep Mobridge on the map encompassed more of the community. People began to realize this was going to happen.
I spent a bit of the day on Friday at the site. First as a reporter, then as a resident of the community, proudly showing the piece off to my sister visiting from Montana. We watched as a line of cars paraded slowly by the sculpture, many stopping and taking pictures and selfies with the sculpture. Twice since then I sat in the parking lot and watched as vehicles slowed, then stopped as the passengers piled out to get a better look.
This is a piece that is a testament to the determination of a group of ladies who love this community. They are proud of their accomplishments, but most of all, according to Jackman, they are proud of Mobridge. They are proud of the people who live here and the town they love.
This is what small town living is all about. It is the love of community and the pride in the people. It is those people digging in their pockets for projects like this or the addition to the library, a new pool for the kids or when someone we know needs a hand up.
What those ladies accomplished is something in which we should all have pride. It is another example of what can be accomplished when determination is the root of a project.
Don’t listen to those who complain about the sculpture. Chances are those people didn’t lift a finger to help or donate a dime.
Listen to the sound of appreciation. Learn about determination from these ladies. Show appreciation for the work of a brilliant creative mind that brought this unique idea to life.
We may not be able to find Foie gras on the menu of a local eatery or shop at a designer boutique in Mobridge, but those things are trivial compared to what we do have.
We have an incredible bunch of people who live here and that’s what counts.
Now let’s bring home the Tiger!