Let the Fall Festivals Begin
It could happen any day now – that first hard frost that finally puts an end to my – and Mother Nature’s – last-gasp efforts to produce one more tomato, cucumber, squash or pepper in my northern Hills garden. I’m not sure about the straggling cucumber vines, the splayed-out tomato plants and the spotty-leaf clumps of summer squash, but I for one can’t wait for the very best day of the harvest season – the last day.
It’s a physical and mental release, that first frosty morning that marks the real changeover into autumn. There’s a snap in the air. The late summer malaise is over. For gardeners, farmers, ranchers and Black Hills vacationers, it’s time to celebrate the cool, new season with fall festivals.
This year, I’m making plans to be part of the Main Street Square crowd in downtown Rapid City – where three great events offer golden opportunities to experience the Black Hills area at its seasonal best.
* Pumpkin patch, pumpkin train, pumpkin pies, pumpkin movie, giant pumpkins and pumpkins flying through the air – it’s the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival all day long on Saturday, Sept. 29.
The activities begin at 9 a.m. with a drum exhibition, farmers market, pumpkin patch and KIDSZONE fun stuff. The Pumpkin Catapault is at 10 a.m., and the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-In is at 11 a.m. In the afternoon, you can listen to local musicians while tasting yummy pumpkin dishes, created by downtown restaurant chefs. There’s dachshund races and dog demos. Feeling thirsty? Adults can get a discount drink badge and hoist a few brews with their friends during the Pub Crawl from 3-7 p.m.
* Beer leaves the bar and heads for Main Street Square during the Oct. 6 Beirborse. This free event features microbrew tastings (ticketed event), homebrew sampling and contest, along with dancing to the tunes of North Dakota polka band, Marv and the Moonlighters. The Ale Riders, a local brew club, sponsors the homebrew contest, where folks can sample one-of-a-kind batches. Buy a souvenir mug for unlimited tastings of than 60 beer varieties provided by local distributors. Of course, the Bierborse is pretty much a grown-up affair. All ages are welcome, but IDs are required to consume alcohol.
* No IDs required, but you probably need a costume to take full advantage of the Halloween fun to be had during Scare in the Square, scheduled from 1-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. There will be pumpkin carving, face painting, other family activities and a special dance performance. Then, kids can grab a bucket and go store-to-store for the Downtown Trick-or-Treat. The event culminates at dusk with the Zombie Walk, the selection of Mr. and Mrs. Zombie and the lighting of the wall of carved pumpkins.
Of course, taking a scenic drive to view the colorful foliage is another popular autumn activity – particularly when your Autumn Expedition takes you to one of the many small-town celebrations happening throughout the Black Hills. Whether it’s the Deadwood Jam, Wine Express into the West, Badger Clark Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering, the Buffalo Roundup or the Native American Day Celebration, there’s a full slate of golden opportunities for fall festival fun in western South Dakota.