Joshua Thurmes, tourism major from Deadwood, and member of the student group DJMAK Planning, presents his group's event proposal to representatives of the Keystone tourist attraction, Rushmore Tramway.
Five teams of Black Hills State University tourism students spent the semester planning summer events to boost local attendance and awareness of a Keystone tourist attraction.

The student teams, who are taking Meetings, Convention and Event Planning course taught by Dr. Ignatius Cahyanto, each created a special event proposal which they recently presented to representatives of Rushmore Tramway, a local attraction featuring a new zipline and aerial adventure park.  The teams, which included one from the University Center - Sioux Falls and one from the University Center - Rapid City who presented via teleconference, competed.

The special events were evaluated by Cahyanto and Rushmore Tramway representatives Cameron Fullerton and Vivian Fullerton. The student group, DJMAK Planning, won with their event ”School’s Out For Summer,” a battle of the bands event that would attract local high school students and their friends and family.  The team’s goal was to get at least one band from the majority of the 22 high schools throughout the Black Hills.  The first place prize for the winning band is an all-day recording session with a local recording studio.

“We want to make our market as big as possible,” according to Joshua Thurmes, tourism major from Deadwood, and member of the winning team. Thurmes said the goal of their event was to promote activities at the park, generate revenue during the start of the season and provide a fun and exciting event targeted at the local community.

 “Their special event proposal is far beyond our expectation, very thorough and very feasible to be implemented,” Cahyanto said of the group’s proposal. DJMAK Planning group members include: Thurmes; Dorothy Collins-Aurand, business administration – tourism major from Belle Fourche; Kellie DeJong, business administration – tourism major from Pierce, Neb.; Austin Sankey, business administration – tourism major from Summerset; and Maria Mraz, business administration – management major from Dupree.  

Both Cameron and Vivian said they were impressed with all the event proposals especially the focus on attracting local community members to the park.

Other proposals included: “Lumberjack for Habitat,” “Opening Day Extravaganza,” “Mother’s Day Extravaganza at the Rushmore Tramway,” and the “Last Hoorah,” an end of summer event.

“This helped me open my eyes and take a different look at marketing,” Cameron Fullerton said.  

The winning team received the opportunity to have their event proposal implemented next summer as well as a cash prize from Cahyanto and an all-day access pass to the Rushmore Tramway.

Cahyanto said projects like this provide a great learning opportunity for students and allows them to relate course materials to real situations. “I believe the best way to inspire students is through real life experience,” he said.