DEADWOOD, S.D. - Over one hundred years ago, the town of Deadwood, South Dakota was a lively town full of people like Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickok, and Jack McCall.
Now, we come together as a community and host a free summer festival celebrating life and Deadwood’s most famous gunslinger! From gold panning to roping to Clint Black himself, everyone who showed up found something to enjoy. Participants came from all over the country including California, Maryland, New Mexico, Texas and more. But we also had our locals to represent us as well, those from Deadwood themselves, across the state in Brookings, and from just over the border in North Dakota.
A passerby in the streets praised the town and the event deeming it, “Very authentic!” They were not the only ones. Ruth and Paul from the upper East Coast, were on a three-week vacation. On their way up to Montana from Keystone, they decided to stay in Historic Deadwood overnight for a little break. In the morning, they were surprised to see so many people.
“The Mount Mariah ladies recommended the museum to us. We wanted to do something that was a little different, or not something super crowded. Totally worth it, it was amazing!”
However, they still found something to do to pass some time outside of the busy streets of Historic Main Street. One of the events of during Wild Bill Days was Ropin’ for Gold. Riders gather from a wide range of land to compete in the annual contest. This year’s winner took home a new horse trailer.
“I would highly recommend coming here to see [the rodeo]. It’s free, it’s authentic, it’s working people doing their work and also the museum, I really like that,” Ruth continued.
Another fun event of the weekend is the Dog Docks competition. Sponsored by Blue Wilderness Pet Food, dogs of all breeds, ages, and colors run off a short dock to compete for the longest jump trying to retrieve whatever item their owner tosses.
Some competitors are veterans, and some are just starting out. For some pups, the idea of jumping off the dock just was not worth the toy. On the other hand, for Julie Jones and her dog Maximus Cash, this has become a tradition, and something of ease.
Jones commented, “It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s exciting. Oh! And don’t be afraid to get wet!
The events are appropriate for everyone of all ages; there is something for everyone! Northern Hills Prospectors are there to teach the art of Gold Panning, which tends to be a great hit with children.
Starting at 5pm there are local bands including Brandon Jones and then classic country artists such as Clint Black and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band!
The most popular night was was Clint Black; listening to classics, the audience enjoyed music from the streets or in businesses that line Historic Deadwood and offer great views.
All in all the weekend was a lot of fun, and everyone had something to enjoy. Events included a small roping rodeo, a glow run, a poker ride, gold panning, dock dogs, museum tours, book signings, live reenactments and more! To learn more about all of the events go to Deadwood.com.