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Rodeos & 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.
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 country.
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 of 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 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 Fork 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 sakes 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 form 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 1 in Cody at the Cody Stampede July 1 through 4. On July 4, enjoy Laramie's Fire in the Sky Fireworks Display and Western Concert. Lander Pioneer Days is also held on July 4th. 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 art shows.
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 weekend.
Wyoming also celebrates its mountain man heritage with a number of outstanding rendezvous: Frontier Festival, Fort Casper, June; 1838 Rendezvous, Riverton, July; 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 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 more.
Enjoy great jazz during the Helena Jazz Jubilee in Helena held each 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," and fireworks.
Don't miss early July's North American Indian Days in Browning. American Indians from all over the country attend this event and celebrations include 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 fiddling talents.
In August, you can enjoy Rocky Boy's Annual Powwow in Box Elder featuring Indian heritage and traditional dancing. Or travel back in time to the mountain man era at the Burnt Hole Rendezvous in West Yellowstone.
The Northern International Livestock Exposition Rodeo and Trade Show takes place in October in Billings and includes livestock and quarter horse shows and sales.
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.
In June 2006 the Nez Perce Tribe will host the Summer of Peace as a National Signature event www.thesummerofpeace.org.
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 Tribe 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.
The Caldwell Night Rodeo is listed among the top 20 professional rodeos in the nation and draws crowds over five nights. The best professional cowboys in the world make it an annual stop in their schedule. It has been featured on nationwide television and is part of the professional rodeo tour.
Labor Day weekend in early September is celebrated in Ketchum and Sun Valley with Wagon Days.
Mid-September brings the Lewiston Roundup, a member of the Big 4 and top 50 PRCA rodeo, the Lewiston Roundup has been graced by champions from around the world, as well as 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 and Rodeo at the end of September features a carnival, draft horse show, mule show, antique tractor pull, demolition derby, and PRCA rodeo.
© 2006 Rocky Mountain International