|Rodeo & Cultural Festivals
The Rocky Mountain West has its own unique cultural history, combining the heroic
and tragic aspects of the opening of the American West, the epic movement of
pioneers from east to west across a continent, the displacement of a native
population, and a culture that comes from a sparse and independent populace
living in vast and varied terrain. This cultural history is celebrated through
festivals and events throughout the year, and the people in this region really
know how to throw a party. The following is a sampling of both major and unique
happenings. For a more complete listing, see the details of regional events
found throughout this publication.
Cattle and cowboys still roam the open range in South Dakota. Visitors can experience South Dakota’s Old West and pioneer heritage through roundups,
rodeos and other prairie celebrations. The Sale Barn in Fort Pierre has livestock
auctions every Friday and runs one of the largest livestock operations in the
The end of January through the beginning of February, the Black Hills Stock
Show and Rodeo takes place in Rapid City. Events include professional rodeos,
a ranch rodeo, timed sheep dog trials, draught horse events, as well as livestock
and horse shows and sales.
The Fort Sisseton Historical Festival is held in the northeastern part of the
state near Sisseton the first weekend in June. It features living-history demonstrations,
infantry drills, and a rendezvous camp. That same weekend, visitors can hike
to the top of Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills.
De Smet hosts the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant for three weekends in July.
The outdoor event brings Laura’s “Little House” books to life.
Popular rodeos include Crystal Springs Ranch Rodeo in late June in Clear Lake.
Attend the Black Hills Roundup in early July in Belle Fourche or the Sitting
Bull Stampede Rodeo in Mobridge. Mid-July events include the Santee Sioux Wacipi
(powwow) in Flandreau and Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo in Mitchell.
In late July, the Days of ‘76 in Deadwood take you back to the Gold Rush
of 1876. Enjoy the sounds of the Sioux River Folk Festival (early August) featuring
acoustic folk artists from the United States and Canada. In mid-August, attend
Riverboat Days along the Missouri River in Yankton.
In early September, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Annual Fair, Rodeo and Powwow
is held in Eagle Butte. In mid-September, the Corn Palace Festival with its
dancing, entertainment and music celebrates the fall harvest in Mitchell.
Late September brings the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, where more
than 1,500 buffalo are rounded up and corralled. The ground shakes and the dirt
swirls as the awesome buffalo go thundering by. In October, the Mount Rushmore
International Marathon is run in the Black Hills, ending in Rapid City.
Pack trips, ranch stays, trail rides, and chuckwagon suppers contribute to the
total western experience and are held spring through fall on an ongoing basis.
Wyoming is known as the “Cowboy State” for good reason. There is
a rodeo every day during the summer somewhere in Wyoming, ranging from small
town “punkin rollers” to the world’s largest outdoor rodeo.
The rodeo season includes outstanding high school and collegiate events plus
nightly rodeos in Cody from June through August, and weekly events in Jackson
and Pine Bluffs, setting the stage for the exciting professional rodeo season
that dominates the summer months.
The Independence Day holiday begins July 3, with a Prime Rib on the Prairie
Dinner in Laramie, and is followed on July 4th by Lander Pioneer Days and the
Cody Stampede. The following week’s events include the Sheridan PRCA Rodeo
and Jubilee Days in Laramie. Casper hosts the Central Wyoming Fair & PRCA
Rodeo in early July. The last full week in July is always the time for the world’s
largest outdoor rodeo celebration, Cheyenne Frontier Days™. The “Daddy
of ‘em All” always features nine rodeos, nine night shows with the
best in country entertainment, four parades, three free pancake breakfasts,
the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Air Show, and one of America’s top western
August’s rodeos include the Wyoming State Fair and PRCA Rodeo in Douglas.
The summer rodeo season concludes with Cowboy Days in Evanston over Labor Day
Wyoming also celebrates its mountain man heritage with a number of outstanding
rendezvous: Frontier Festival, Fort Caspar, June; Rendezvous of 1838, Riverton,
June; Green River Rendezvous, Pinedale, second week in July; Fort Bridger Rendezvous,
Fort Bridger State Park, Labor Day weekend; annual gatherings in Dubois, Jackson,
Lander and Curt Gowdy State Park.
Native American celebrations are scheduled at the Wind River Indian Reservation,
the Annual Powwow at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody in mid June,
and the Gift of the Waters Pageant in Thermopolis the first weekend of August.
Great athletes aren’t only found at rodeos in Wyoming. Casper is the
home of an Indoor National Football Team, the Wyoming Cavalry and the Casper
Rockies minor league baseball team. Enjoy an action-packed evening in Jackson
watching the Jackson Moose amateur hockey team. Jackson is home to Olympic gold
medal skier Tommy Moe, and Afton is the home of local hero Rulon Gardner, Greco-Roman
wrestling Olympic gold medal winner.
A state as big and diverse as Montana has many large and small events throughout
the year. The following is a sampling.
During winter, enjoy the Western Winter Carnival in Big Sky in January, or
in February, the Whitefish Winter Carnival in Whitefish and the Montana Winter
Fair in Bozeman
In late April, attend the Helena Railroad Fair in Helena. In May, don’t
miss the Buffalo Feast and Powwow in St. Ignatius. For rodeo fun, take in the
Miles City Jaycee Bucking Horse Sale in Miles City, where you can watch and
bet on wild horse races. In early June, take in some awesome music amidst great
scenery during the Red Lodge Music Festival. Twenty-five professional musicians
from around the country gather for nine days of symphony, jazz and chamber performances.
Around June 25, take in the Custer’s Last Stand and Little Bighorn Days
in Hardin. Attend the Lewis and Clark Festival in Great Falls and be treated
to a buffalo barbecue, musket shooting, short float trips on the Missouri, and
Enjoy great jazz during the Sleeping Giant Swing ‘N Jazz Jubilee in Helena
held the third weekend in June and the Montana Traditional Jazz Festival in
Missoula during the last weekend of June. New Orleans-style Dixieland jazz bands
from across the country gather at these festivals to play their best jazz.
On the 4th of July, attend the Livingston Roundup Rodeo—three nights of
rodeo with a parade, Livingston’s famous “Indian hold ups,”
Don’t miss early July’s North American Indian Days in Browning.
American Indians from all over the country attend this event and celebration
featuring Indian dancing, contest dancing, rodeos, hand games and a parade.
In mid-July, attend the Wild Horse Stampede in Wolf Point. Professional rodeo
and wild horse races are the special events during the stampede festivities.
During the last week of July, attend the Montana State Fiddlers’ Contest
in Polson where for two full days fiddlers from across the state show off their
In August, you can enjoy Rocky Boy’s Annual Powwow in Box Elder featuring
Indian heritage and traditional dancing.
The Northern International Livestock Exposition Rodeo and Trade Show takes
place in October in Billings and includes livestock and quarter horse shows
One-of-a-kind events take place throughout the year in Idaho, from spiritual
Native American celebrations to wild fairs and rodeos. Pocatello hosts the Dodge
National Circuit Finals Rodeo in mid-March, and over 55,000 spectators thaw
out and show up. The Matalyma Root Feast and Powwow is in May in Kamiah on the
Nez Perce Reservation. This colorful event features a parade and namegiving
In mid-June, the town of L
The Snake River Stampede takes place each year in Nampa in mid-July and is
considered to be one of the top 25 rodeos in the nation. Post Falls hosts the
Julyamsh Powwow in late July.
In August, the Shoshone-Bannock Festival is held at the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
Plummer and Coeur d’Alene Reservation host the Coming of the Blackrobes
Pilgrimage to Old Cataldo Mission, including an encampment the night prior.
The Looking Glass Powwow and namegiving ceremonies are held on the Nez Perce
Reservation in Kamiah in mid-August.
Labor Day weekend in early September is celebrated in Ketchum and Sun Valley
with Wagon Days.
Mid-September brings the Lewiston Roundup, along with Idaho Spud Day in Shelley,
which features “Spud-tacular” events including the World Spud Picking
Championship and a Dutch Oven Cook-Off.
The Twin Falls County Fair & Rodeo at the end of September features a carnival,
draft horse show, mule show, antique tractor pull, demolition derby, and PRCA