Cootie Days

Dell Rapids American Legion Post #65 Cootie Days 2017

Dell Rapids City Park
June 9 – 3:00 PM – 10:30 PM
June 10 – 12:00 Noon – 10:30 PM

Fun rides, Carnival Midway, Bingo Games, Raffle Drawings, and Fantastic Food!

Advance Ride Tickets on sale at T & C’s

Below is an article about the history of Cootie Days in the 2015 Argus Leader

Cootie Days continues fun Dells’ tradition
Jesse Christen, jchristen@argusleader.com11:05 p.m. CT June 15, 2015
cootie days
(Photo: Jesse Christen / Dell Rapids Tribune)

The Dell Rapids City Park was filled with fun, games and rides on Friday and Saturday as the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Post 65 hosted the annual Cootie Days.

This year marked the 96th anniversary of the annual Dell Rapids event.

Post 65 American Legion Commander Ron Welbig said the Dell Rapids American Legion has been involved with the event since its inception almost 100 years ago.

“We’re one of the longest running carnivals in South Dakota,” he said. “This year we have almost perfect weather and the support has been great.”

Welbig said Cootie Days started after soldiers started returning home from WWI. Life in the trenches was less than ideal and many of the veterans had bugs, or “cooties.” The name stuck and the celebration became known as Cootie Days.

Cootie Days is the George A. Fitzgerald Post 65 American Legion’s primary annual fundraiser.

Welbig wanted to recognize the American Legion Auxiliary for all the work they do with event along with work done by Legion members.

The McDermott Family Carnival provided the Midway entertainment.

The family owned carnival operates out of Anthon, Iowa. The McDermott crew is out on the road from May through September and performs at close to 30 different carnival events each season, said Fred Schnetter, who is truck driver and maintenance worker for show.

Besides Dell Rapids, the McDermott Family Carnival operates in eastern South Dakota visiting towns like Canton, Elkton and Salem along with communities in southwest Minnesota and in their home state of Iowa.

Schnetter said he remember working a carnival at Cootie Days as young teenager and is glad to be back at the City Park in Dell Rapids.

Since the business is family owned, many of the workers have been doing carnival work since they were young kids, said Shane McDermott. McDermott said his mother, brothers and his wife Tracey and daughters Shaley and Skyler all spend their summer months together “putting on the show.”

He said his carnival has been coming to Dell Rapids for the event every year since 1993. Like Dells, many of the towns and cities the carnival visits are regular stops.

“You get to meet people and make friends,” McDermott said. “I may not always remember their names but I remember the faces. Sometimes I get to see people I know from other communities when my daughters are competing in sports.”

McDermott spens the rest of the year working in an agricultural related business while his wife Tracey works for their local school district. One of his daughters is enrolled in college and the other is still in high school. But the carnival business gives them a way to spend time together and earn some money during the summer months.

“If you own this equipment, the only way you’re going to make money is to get out and set iit up,” he said