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Lead Festival to Celebrate Italian Heritage, Mining History

June 15, 2024

Italian American heritage holds a significant place in the diverse tapestry of the United States, weaving a story of resilience, cultural richness, and notable contributions.

America Domani Staff, February 2024

The story of Italian immigrants’ influence in one Black Hills community will soon be told. Lead’s Italian American heritage will be celebrated during the annual Hidden Treasure Heritage Festival scheduled June 21-22. The event, sponsored by the South Dakota Humanities Council and the Lead Historic Preservation Commission, will highlight the town’s ethnic and mining heritage and illustrate how these cultural and business influences continue to shape the community today.

Project Director Terry Smith hopes the festival, which includes historic exhibits, musical performances, and activities for all ages, will educate and entertain residents of the community and surrounding area.

“Our intention with the festival is to show the community’s growth to become the second largest city in South Dakota, and how it embraced its diverse culture and heritage,” Smith said. “The story of Lead is amazing, and one that cannot be told in a single weekend. Over the coming years, we will tell the immigrants’ story, their heritage and what life was like in those early ethnic neighborhoods of Lead.”

The festival begins June 21 with a cooking class and wine tasting at the Historic Roundhouse, followed by a trivia contest at Lewie’s. On June 22, scheduled events include a treasure hunt, Italian neighborhood tours, a marinara contest, kids’ activities, and art exhibits.

The Lead-Deadwood Arts Center will showcase two primary exhibits for the festival. The Italians of Northern Italyfeatures photos, bios, and newspaper articles of more than 40 families from Piedmont, Italy, who were among the earliest immigrants to the area and who were instrumental in the establishment and economic growth of the community.

The second exhibit, The Superintendents of Homestake, will offer photos, bios, and newspaper articles about the accomplishments and challenges of leaders who oversaw the city’s mining operation from the 1870s to the early 2000s.

To conclude the weekend, Hank Harris and other original members of the Red Willow Band return to the Historic Homestake Opera House for the first time since 2012 to perform their Deadwood Songbook, featuring music made popular from 1875-1910. For a complete event schedule, click here.

For more information, contact the Lead Historic Preservation Commission at (605) 584-1401 or the SDHC office at (605) 688-6113.

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