For a state as quiet and remote as South Dakota, it does a bang-up job putting on festivals when the weather warms up. From the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to several Wild West festivals in Deadwood, you can expect to find something fun happening every weekend over the summer months. Catch jazz and blues in Sioux Falls, bluegrass in Sturgis, and buffaloes getting rounded up at Custer State Park. South Dakota holidays also celebrate classic Americana with epic Thanksgiving feasts and fireworks for the 4th of July.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
One of the world’s most famous motorcycle rallies takes place in southwestern South Dakota in the town of Sturgis. Every August for 10 days, little Sturgis transforms into America’s largest (and oldest) biker rally. Nearly 500,000 people come here to share the common love of motorcycles and have a good time. Don’t think this is some dirty, dangerous biker party. It’s really just a fun family event with bike shows, races, music, and loads of socializing.
Wild Bill Days
Deadwood relives its colorful past every June when its holds its popular Wild Bill Days festival. Named in honor of Wild Bill Hickok, this event features dozens of fun Wild West events, staged gunfights, mining demonstrations, music, food, and kids’ activities. It’s a great week to be in Deadwood.
Black Hills Bluegrass Festival
June is a beautiful time of year in the Black Hills so the locals celebrate with a bluegrass music festival. The town of Sturgis hosts this great event, which attracts thousands of music fans and a dozen of the country’s top bluegrass, country, and folk bands to perform for the crowds. A relaxed, low-key atmosphere makes this one of the best festivals of its kind in the Midwest.
Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Festival
Even South Dakota has a solid jazz and blues music festival, held every July in Sioux Falls. Around 80,000 people attend this annual event in the city’s lovely Yankton Trail Park, where they can watch well-known musicians and bands from around the country play. Food and beer vendors, crafts stalls, and a big fireworks display add to the fun.
Days of ‘76
Another big event in the town of Deadwood celebrates its founding way back in 1876. For five days every July, the town goes western with a huge rodeo competition, a big carnival, a colorful parade, and a Western arts and crafts show. There is a little bit of everything at this family-fun festival that peaks with the Days of ’76 Parade along Main Street.
Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup
One of the more unique events to take place in America happens every September in Custer State Park. This South Dakota park is home to a huge herd of wild buffalo, and each fall they are rounded up by cowboys to prepare them for the winter season. It’s a rare reminder of the Old West days when millions of buffalo roamed the Great Plains. This free event is a fascinating spectacle which is well worth witnessing once.