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Autumn Expedition: Bison Roundup, Powwow, Hometown Events Offer Plenty to Do in the Black Hills

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CUSTER, S.D. (Aug. 27/09) – Fall is one of the best times to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota. The nights are cool, the aspen trees are brilliant and special events are going on throughout the Hills. Collectively known as the Autumn Expedition, the event series runs from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12.

The list includes the popular Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup on Sept. 28. Each year, thousands of visitors from around the world gather to see and hear 1,500 bison charging across the prairie. The colorful Black Hills Powwow, Oct. 9 to 11 in Rapid City, draws costumed Native American dancers, drummers and artists. For three days, they share their culture and traditions with visitors.

But the Autumn Expedition also includes small, hometown celebrations such as the Holy Terror Days festival Sept. 4 to 6 in Keystone, and outdoors events such as the 109-mile bicycle ride, the Mickelson Trail Trek.

Other Autumn Expedition events:

Sept. 1 - 30 -- Center of the Nation Monument in Belle Fourche marks the 50th anniversary of Alaska and Hawaii statehood -- which moved the geographic center of the United States to the Belle Fourche area -- all month long.


Sept. 1 - 30 -- Mount Rushmore National Memorial will host its evening lighting ceremony nightly at 8 p.m. through mid-September.


Sept. 12 - 13 -- Storybook Island Fall Festival in Rapid City features vendors, games, prizes and special guests at the popular children’s park.

Sept. 18 - 20 -- Western Heritage Festival in Hill City includes a parade, music, cowboy poetry, Western art, children’s games and ranch horse competition.

Sept. 19 - 20 -- Wine Express into the West aboard the 1880 Train between Keystone and Hill City allows riders to enjoy wine, food and the fall colors of the Black Hills.

Sept. 25 - 26 -- Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering in Hot Springs brings the West to life through stories, poems and songs.

Sept. 26 -- Sturgis Pedal Regatta in Sturgis features a different kind of bike -- the non-motorized kind -- as racers can compete in courses designed for avid riders and novices.

Sept. 26 - 27 -- 5th Annual Custer Stampede Buffalo Art Auction in Custer is a visual arts celebration of the American bison.

Sept. 26 - 28 -- 16th Annual Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival in Custer State Park is an outdoor festival that features art, entertainment and food.

Sept. 27 -- 20th Annual Buffalo Wallow Chili Cook-off, also in Custer State Park, allows the public to sample the best chili recipes made with bison meat.

Oct. 2 - 3 -- 1st Annual Pumpkin Festival, a new event in downtown Rapid City, will feature giant pumpkins, pumpkin carving, painting contests and a pumpkin catapult.

Oct. 2 - 3 -- Oktoberfest in Deadwood includes live German music, free food, dancing and the Weiner Dog Races.

Oct. 3 -- An Evening with the President at Mount Rushmore is a fund-raiser for memorial projects. It features a dinner with a presidential re-enactor, gourmet period-food, entertainment and a silent auction.

Oct. 12 -- Native American Day at the Crazy Horse Memorial near Custer is a cultural event that also includes a mountain blast and an evening laser light show.

For details about the Autumn Expedition, visit

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