100 YEARS: Hobo Day traditions stand test of time


It’s sort of silly, really.

To dress up as bums, grow beards and pigtails, going from house to house to eat stew and party like it’s 1912 every year.

Everyone else celebrates a homecoming. We celebrate a Miss Homelycoming.

But we love it.

Where else would there be a statue of a hobo named Weary Wil strutting with his dog, Spot, down the street?

We love the chance to be wild, have fun with friends and honor a tradition that now spans 100 years of students here in Brookings.

We wake up, bleary-eyed from the week before and we walk down to Medary Avenue or 6th Street for the parade and we give a hearty hello to everyone, known or not. We wave to our friends on the floats in the parade and they wave back. We make fun of the Bummobile breaking down. We go to Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, tailgate in The Backyard and cheer on the Jackrabbits for another win.

It’s Hobo Day. It’s South Dakota State.

People come from all across South Dakota and the upper midwest to be a part of something that is vividly part of our university’s history and connects everyone for one day each year.

Hobo Day carries the aura of being “The Biggest One Day Event in the Dakotas” and year after year it delivers.

For alumni, it’s a chance to come back to Brookings and enjoy what’s great about State. Students can point to these four or five or six weekends in their college careers among their most memorable moments.

As Hobo Day has moved through the years, alums bring their children and their children become students, making their own memories and starting the Hobo Cycle over again.

For Jackrabbits, this has become an annual pilgramage to the windy city on the prairie every fall to catch up with old friends and make a few more in the process.

It’s good, old-fashioned fun, with an emphasis on old-fashioned.

And if you know SDSU’s history well, you know that Dakota Days in Vermillion was rejected as SDSU’s homecoming choice.

Hobo Day has stood the test of time.

The first Hobo Day 100 years ago was “a success in every respect,” and as you’ll see on the following pages, this year’s celebration plans to replicate and improve on that memorable beginning.

In this, the 98th year of celebrating after pausing twice for the two prior World Wars, just about every Jackrabbit is gearing up for the party of the century.

Every school has unique traditions but nobody else celebrates quite like we do.

Jackrabbit or not, it’s a good time.

Enjoy yourself, Hobos.