In addition to the festival of books, I am excited about the adventures that I will be able to experience in South Dakota. I say adventures because the specter of this mountain state is fascinating.
South Dakota gets its name from the Dakota Sioux Native American tribes, in whose language "Dakota" means “friend” or “ally.” South Dakota ranks 16th in size among the 50 states, encompassing 77,123 square miles and averaging ten people per square mile. Those numbers make it the fifth least densely populated in the union.
Its nickname is based on the state’s most famous attraction, Mt. Rushmore. It is littered with iconic locations such as The Black Hills, Deadwood and The Badlands and defined by with historic wild west icons including Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. And based on the fossil finds that have been made in South Dakota, it’s clear that dinosaurs also once called it home.
In researching my adventure options, the one that I have found most engaging is the Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival at Custer State Park.
Now before I endure outcries from any animal rights groups, this roundup is focused on approximately 1,300 buffalo and serves as a critical management tool in maintaining a strong and healthy herd.
That being said, the first thing about this roundup that caught my eye is that event organizers offer 20 riding positions to the general public.
That’s right. I could apply to be one of the riders who help corral these regal buffalos. Sadly, applications closed in early June, so I will be relegated to spectator status. That along with the fact that I no longer have a horse with which to roundup!
More than 20,000 people are expected to attend this year’s roundup and arts festival and I plan on being front and center on Friday morning 6am. That’s the time event organizers suggest people arrive to claim a prime viewing spot of the herd as they lumber from the prairie to the corrals. It’s a process that they estimate will take two and a half hours. And that’s only for half the total herd. The rest will be gathered in October.
When I originally read about this roundup, I added it to my list of possible South Dakota to-dos. However, once I saw this YouTube video, I knew I had to be there for what will surely be an amazing adventure.