Everybody is heading to Farley Fest 2019 this weekend. There’s something for everyone: rock and country music, hot dogs and trick dogs, classic cars, food, beer, ski shows, and more. Plus, it’s all just around the corner at Lake Farley Park in Milbank.
But did you ever wonder why it’s called Lake Farley Park?
Lake Farley Park is named after John Stanley Farley a member of the Farley family who helped to shape Milbank in the nineteenth century. According to Pete Farley, grandson of John Stanley Farley, “John Stanley Farley came to Milbank to establish a business. He opened a hardware store, which evolved into a farm implement business, plus a hardware store.”
John Stanley Farley was an active volunteer in the community and served as a councilman. In a gesture of gratitude, the city named Farley Park after him. Later, when the Milwaukee Railroad built Lake Farley and the dam to provide water for their steam engines, the lake was also named after the Farleys.
But John Stanley Farley wasn’t the only Farley who made things happen in Milbank. His son Earl practiced law for 37 years, served as mayor of Milbank for four terms, and was appointed to a judgeship in the fifth judicial circuit for the State of South Dakota. His son is Peter Farley.
Peter’s mother was Helen Bleser, the daughter of N.J. Bleser, a pioneering homesteader who arrived in 1882 to open the doors of Bleser Drug in Milbank Junction, Dakota Territory in 1883. (South Dakota would not become a state until six years later in 1889.) N. J. Bleser also had a son, Karl, who eventually took over the drug store and operated it until 1967.
Peter Farley says he has not made as big of an impact on Milbank as Milbank has made on him. He says, “I am one of the lucky ones to have grown up in Milbank. Milbank and the people of the community gave me the foundation for good character and helped make me a positive contribution to society.” (Pete served four years of active duty in the US Navy, was employed in the aerospace industry, and worked as a sales engineer of electrical products for over 40 years.)
He says, “When I was in Milbank for my sixtieth high school class reunion, Farley Park looked better than it did in my youth. I recognized the community still has a progressive attitude, so I was not surprised by the changes. ” Then, just to prove he was native, and speaking for the all the Farleys, he added, “We love Milbank!”