Hometown Heroes

The Hometown Hero Award recognizes an individual or organization that has shown superior willingness and dedication to the tourism industry in the Aberdeen area. Hometown Heroes work hard and selflessly to ensure that their group's meetings, conventions, or events are held in the community. Visitors that attend these special events fill the hotels, restaurants, attractions, and retail outlets. The dollars they spend have a tremendous impact on the welfare of our city. By going the extra mile to bring in visitors, Hometown Heroes help ensure the economic vitality of the community continues to thrive. 

        Our 2017 Hometown Hero Award winner is Sue Gates and the Dacotah Prairie Museum


Sue Gates port


In 1969 the Dacotah Prairie Museum was created and began its mission of telling the stories of the Dakota prairie and its inhabitants. Along the way the DPM has dedicated itself to being a community resource for all county residents.

For nearly 30 years, Sue Gates, current museum director has led the DPM in promoting community participation. Not only has she overseen the progressive development of museum educational programs and outreach exhibits but has also researched and given historical programs to local community service groups. She has actively lobbied and supported bringing in interesting traveling exhibits to the museum that have exponentially increased museum visitation.

In those early days of the museum it became clear that an historical Aberdeen and Brown County educational component was desired and needed in the local schools. Many school children have toured through the museum’s exhibits and had the opportunity to dip candles and churn butter the old fashioned way. This effort has extended to visiting all of the Aberdeen elementary school and many of the county’s school districts, as well. In 2017 the DPM staff visited 396 classrooms and hosted 26 schools for in-house children’s programs; with over 10,000 student interactions for the year. Students return the favor by bringing their family members back to the museum so they can share what they learned.

The DPM presented over 20 different exhibits and events at the Dacotah Prairie Museum and the Granary Rural Cultural Center this past year. This includes art exhibits by local and South Dakota artists and their receptions, public openings for historical and children’s exhibits, children’s art and history camps, adult art classes, concerts, theatrical productions, and historical festivals. In addition, the DPM responded to requests from area businesses and conventions for outreach exhibits. In 2017 the DPM had over 17,000 visitors specifically for museum exhibits, educational programs, and events with nearly 47,000 visitors all together for outreach exhibits, and Granary attendance and events.

Highlights for 2017 include over 700 people enjoying the DPM’s Holiday Open House in December and over 100 students from North and South Dakota participating the Granary’s All Dakota High School Fine Arts Exhibition in April. Visitors came from 46 states and the District of Columbia as well as from 25 countries and four Canadian provinces.

Under the capable leadership of Sue Gates, the Dacotah Prairie Museum will host another year of inviting exhibits, programs and events to bring in visitors from all over the United States and the world.

Please join us in thanking our 2017 Hometown Hero Award winner the

Sue Gates and the Dacotah Prairie Museum.

Past winners of this award include Eugene Smith (2005), Aberdeen Baseball Association (2006), Gene Brownell (2007), Yelduz Shrine (2008), Pat Timm (2009), Gregg Odde (2010), Coach Bob Olson (2011), Aberdeen Running Club (2012), Aberdeen Swim Club (2013), Aberdeen Aqua Addicts & SD Film Festival (2014), Hub City Soccer Club (2015), Aberdeen Senior Games Committee (2016).