A DIMBOOLA man has found a new home in an unlikely place.
Dave Hedt first visited the small town of Faulkton, South Dakota in 2003.
He fell in love with the town, the residents fell in love with him and last month the mayor named a day after him.
April 26 for Faulkton residents will now be known as Dimboola Dave Day.
Mr Hedt said it all started with driving headers.
“I’ve travelled all over the world driving headers, but I made friends in Faulkton who were as good as the ones I have at home,” he said.
“I started going back every American summer to visit them.
“In 2007 when I worked in Canada, I travelled back and forth from South Dakota.
“Basically every summer I was coming back to spend time with friends.”
“I’ve travelled all over the world driving headers, but I made friends in Faulkton who were as good as the ones I have at home.”
The idea for a business venture took Mr Hedt’s love of Faulkton in a new direction.
“I was having a few beers at the pub one night and came up with the concept for a hardware store,” he said.
“It took me almost seven years to get it up and going because there were a few international hurdles I had to go through.
“It turned out the town desperately needed an entire shopping centre due to an ageing business district.
“So I built it in the hope that businesses would come.
"It turned out to be successful beyond my imagination.”
The centre officially opened last month.
“We had the grand opening on April 26 and the town surprised me by proclaiming it Dimboola Dave Day,” Mr Hedt said.
“It doesn’t sound like much, but it was such an honour.
“The mayor has been mayor for 12 years and he has only made two proclamations before.
“Once he was ordered to by the state and the other one was for a woman who turned 100 years old.
“It’s been a bit of a wild ride, but it’s just amazing.”
As part of Dimboola Dave Day celebrations, all Faulkton residents are encouraged to take a short walkabout.
The new shopping centre has accommodation for seven stores.
“It has drawn four new businesses to town,” he said.
“The town ended up with a new hardware store, a boutique, a hair salon, embroidery shop and office spaces.
“For a town of only 800 people – we had 500 turn up for the grand opening.
“They were all very excited to have more businesses at their disposal.”
“I built it in the hope that businesses would come. It turned out to be successful beyond my imagination.”
Mr Hedt said the grand opening included the ‘whole kit and caboodle’.
“We had Miss South Dakota come and cut a ribbon and a band played,” he said.
While Mr Hedt does not have permanent residency or a green card, his visa allows him to stay for another two years.
“I am now dating a former Miss South Dakota, so I might be here for a little while longer,” he said.
Mr Hedt said it was difficult to describe why he liked Faulkton so much.
“The town is incredibly vibrant,” he said.
“I’ve had quite a few friends from Australia come and visit me and when they leave they tell me they understand why I keep coming back.
“The people here are more friendly and hospitable than anywhere else in the world.
“The activity and amount of drive this community has to make itself better is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.”
Mr Hedt said he was no longer driving headers.
“I’m basically full time looking after my business and I am also half owner of a bike shop in Melbourne and a small import company,” he said.
“Dimboola will always be my home, but this is a pretty close second.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of my family, especially my mum and dad, and friends.”