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South Dakota’s calendar is jam packed with annual celebrations throughout the year. Whether you’re looking to browse the work of Midwestern artisans or anticipating the roar of a Main Street motorcycle fest, the Mount Rushmore State has your answer.
Set in Mitchell in southeastern South Dakota, the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo is held in late July at the Horseman's Sports Arena – located near the famed Corn Palace itself. Summer visitors enjoy rodeo fun, chili cook-offs, and live country music at the rodeo grounds. Plus, there's the Midcontinent Rodeo Golf Classic at Lakeview Golf Course, the Rodeo Mixer at the Highland Conference Center, and the Rodeo Parade along Mitchell’s Main Street.
South Dakota is a land of historic sites – the most famous of which being the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. Set near Keystone in the southwestern corner of the state, the 60-foot faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are a must-see during your trip to the Mt. Rushmore State. And what better way to observe the Fourth of July than with the Mt. Rushmore Independence Day Celebration? More than 20,000 people flock to Mt. Rushmore each July for live performances, educational demonstrations, and the Sculpture Lighting Ceremony.
Held in late January to early February, the annual Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo takes place in southwest South Dakota in Rapid City. Established in 1958 as the Black Hills Winter Show, the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo draws over 300,000 annual attendees – and is Rapid City’s largest event. Held at the Central States Fairgrounds, the 10-day festival features 10 breeds of cattle, and provides livestock and horse events as well. Don’t miss festivities like the Backyard BBQ Contest, the Banquet & Ball, and the Sheep Dog Trails – and rest easy at the Best Western hotel in Rapid City.
Held annual in November, the Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival takes place at Custer State Park in southwest South Dakota – just east of Custer in the Black Hills National Forest. Roughly 1,300 buffalo are herded during the Buffalo Roundup, while the free arts festival showcases 150 vendors and artists from throughout the Midwest. Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival also features the Dutch Oven Cook-off and Chili Cook-off, and be sure to bring chairs, cameras, and rain gear just in case. Enjoy a night at the Best Western hotel in Custer after your day with the Buffalo herd.
Annually celebrating all things "cool," the Sioux Falls JazzFest is a free, three-day blues and jazz festival, in Sioux Falls. The festival is usually scheduled for the third weekend in July in Yankton Trails Park. The festival features a stellar lineup of jazz, blues, Latin, reggae, Zydeco, rock, soul, and funk artists featured on two stages. Each year, roughly 75,000 people enjoy the delicious food, beverages, and music.
Held annually in August, Yankton Riverboat Days is a three-day festival set in Yankton. Festivities include a parade, arts and crafts, dance performances, kids' activities, hot air balloon rides, carnival rides, and more, all held at various locations throughout the city, including the Yankton Mall and Riverside Park. Too, schedule plenty of time to watch the pine wood derby races, the log splitting demonstration, and the Old West Reenactors. Kids love watching performances in the Yankton Children's Theater, as well as the RBD Extreme Bull Riding events, with the adults.
Held in early August, the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was established in 1938 as the Black Hills Classic in western South Dakota. Happening along Main Street in downtown Sturgis, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally draws nearly one million attendees to the event.
At the rally, Harley-Davidson and Victory motorcycle companies display new models, while other vendors sell accessories and rally souvenirs. Attendees may also check out the Annual Mayor’s Ride, the Annual World Championship of Custom Bike Building, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.