If you thought that nothing exciting ever happens in South Dakota, think again. Each year, the locals and out-of-towners alike count down the days until they can flock to their favorite festivals. Whether it be to celebrate the way of life of their ancestors or to support a local cause in a fun environment, some of these attendants have been coming together for decades. Here are 10 fun-filled South Dakota festivals you can’t miss out on.
1. Czech Days, Tabor
Named after the city of Tabor in Czechoslovakia, this small community is proud of their roots. Every Summer, they gather together to celebrate their heritage with delicious traditional Czech foods and plenty of music, dancing, and entertainment. A highlight of this festival is the Polka Dance Off Contest, in which community members like to compete in traditional Czechoslovakian dress. This festival occurs every June.
2. JazzFest, Sioux Falls
This 3-day music festival is the highlight of the Summer for many Sioux Falls residents, with 125,000 people attending each year. It features two stages of incredible music with past headliners including George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Gary Clark Jr., Grace Potter, Sheryl Crow and more. Though it is free to the public, beverage sales support Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues, a non-profit organization founded in 1987. Check out JazzFest next July.
3. Black Hills Music & Food Festival, Rapid City
Black Hills Music & Food Festival is an opportunity for local musicians to show the community what they're made of. This annual July event also includes a Guitar Hero contest and plenty of opportunities to win prizes. Although it is free to the public, be sure you have your wallet in tow for the delicious food and drink vendors.
4. The Menno Power Show, Menno
The goal of The Menno Power Show is to celebrate the history and life of our forefathers through a living museum. It features antique tractors, steam engine plowing and threshing, demonstrations, a bale throwing contest, a flea market, and more. This unique festival always occurs the third weekend after Labor Day.
5. Danish Days, Viborg
Every year this small community celebrates their Danish culture with a festival schedule that is jam-packed with events. Celebrations include ethnic food tastings, carnivals, dances, Danish education, and tractor pulls.
6. WaterTown Winter Farm Show, Watertown
Catherine Summer / Flickr
The 71st annual Watertown Winter Farm Show will occur February 8-13, 2017. Attendees can learn everything there is to know about South Dakota’s ag industry and participate in a state crop show, Lego contents, a homemade ice cream contest, and home and family programs. This festival also includes almost 150 commercial exhibit booths.
7. Wild Bill Days, Deadwood
Wild Bill Hickok Days is a weekend full of free entertainment on Main Street, Deadwood. Events include concerts with tribute bands to some of our country’s biggest stars. This festival that celebrates the life of Wild Bill Hickok in the city he died also involves gold panning demonstrations and a National DockDogs Competition.
8. Festival of Trees Celebration, Lead
This festival takes place annually at the Historic Homestake Opera House, a performing arts venue operated by a non-profit. Each year attendants enjoy a live vintage auction, delicious treats, wine, and lively Christmas music while they vote on their favorite decorated Christmas tree or wreath. Admission is either by monetary donation or a food item donation to the local food pantry or animal shelter.
9. Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant, De Smet
Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant is the perfect festival for those who enjoy theater and learning about life on the prairie. The heart behind this local tradition is to preserve the life of the pioneers through theater presentations based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings. This volunteer-run program attracts people from all over the country.
10. Schmeckfest, Freeman
An annual spring event in the community of Freeman, Schmeckfest is German for “festival of tasting.” Each year thousands gather to celebrate their heritage with a traditional family-style German meal and musical production. Other activities include musical and historical presentations, a huge variety of food and craft demonstrations, a quilt raffle and more. Experience this delicious festival on two consecutive weekends this spring: March 24th and 25th and March 31st and April 1st.
Have you been to any of these festivals? Tell us about your experience in the comments!