Fall hard for South Dakota's harvest festivals

Autumn means harvest time in South Dakota.  With such a rich agricultural culture, it’s no surprise that harvest celebrations have been happening in South Dakota for more than 100 years. That’s plenty of time to get things right. Now it’s time to check out what communities large and small are doing to celebrate the arrival of fall in South Dakota. (Pro tip: Come hungry.)

Delmont Harvest Festival/Kuchen Festival (Sept. 8-9) – Delmont

If you haven’t had a slice of kuchen—custard filing held in place with a delicious dough crust—well, it’s time to remedy that at this festival. This delicious treat can be purchased by the slice or pan, so enjoy the official state dessert and a German lunch while exploring art, crafts, and quilts before strolling through the Pumphouse Museum. Don’t miss the Twin Rivers Old Iron Show, where history comes “alive” with restored cars, tractors and other forms of farm equipment that you’ve probably never experienced before.

Beef N Fun Festival (Sept. 8) – Mobridge

In addition to having one of the most memorable names around, this festival also features a Harvest Festival at the Klein Museum, home of an impressive collection of Native American artifacts. Mobridge’s Main Street will be filled with an impressive array of vehicles for the 15th Annual Car, Motorcycle and Tractor Show. There’s also a pet parade, a city-wide garage sale, a 5K walk/run, and more (some of which definitely involves beef).

Harvest Festival/ Arts in the Park (Sept. 8) – Gregory

What started as an annual soup-tasting contest has transformed into a full-blown harvest festival featuring Arts in the Park, a farmers' market, color run, Storytime in the Park, musical entertainment, kids activities, minnow races and more. The soup-tasting contest remains, but this year will also feature Pumpkin Chuckin’, where teams of high school students build their own trebuchets to see who can launch a pumpkin the farthest!

Annual Grape Stomp Festival (Sept. 8-9) – Rosholt

Some people don’t even know that South Dakota has grapes. What better way to educate yourself on the grape harvest season than by stomping some yourself? The celebration at the With the Wind Vineyard & Winery also includes dining, music, shopping, fun and, of course, wine.

Homesteader Day Harvest Festival (Sept. 9) – Beaver Creek Nature Area

Experience the sights, sounds and smells of pioneer life at the beautiful Beaver Creek Nature Area five miles southeast of Brandon. The historic Samuelson cabin will be open for visitors while Civil War soldiers and a blacksmith will be on-site for hands-on history lessons. There will also be pioneer agricultural demonstrations, Dutch oven cooking, rope-making, candle-dipping, music and more. The event attracts visitors of all ages who want a taste of homestead life and living history. The free event typically features fiddlers, pioneer crafts, living history and old-time farming demonstrations.

Fall in the Park at Lewis & Clark (Sept. 15) – Lewis & Clark Recreation Area

The best way to celebrate autumn is to do so in nature, so come to the Lewis & Clark Recreation Area just outside of Yankton on Sept. 15 for all kinds of outdoor festivities. Something for every age of explorer awaits! Outdoor activities include an obstacle course, mini-golf, archery, air rifles, games, crafts, Dutch oven cooking, hayrides, and a campground-decorating contest.

Harvest Fest (Sept. 22) – Spearfish

Watch food and craft vendors take over downtown Spearfish during this festival while retail businesses fill the sidewalks with end-of-the-summer deals. The antique tractor show will give you a hands-on experience with once-modern equipment. Enjoy live and local entertainment while browsing delicious food and great bargains.

Chamberlain-Oacoma Fall Festival (Sept. 29) – Chamberlain

Chamberlain and Oacoma unite over the mighty Missouri River on the last Saturday of September to celebrate the arrival of fall. Expect craft and food vendors as well as some beloved pumpkin chuckin’.

Edgemont Fall Festival Car & Quilt Show (Sept. 29) – Edgemont

The town named for being on the edge of the Black Hills is a gorgeous, idyllic spot for a fall celebration. A Kids Zone with bounce house, face painting, games and cotton candy will keep the little ones smiling all day while adults enjoy the car show, vendors, live music, and canoe & kayak races.

Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival (Sept. 29) – Rapid City

Pumpkins signal the arrival of fall in South Dakota. Pumpkins flying through the air after being launched from a catapult, however, are a sign that The Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival has returned to Rapid City. In addition to pumpkin chuckin’, the festival also features a giant pumpkin weigh-off, pub crawl, pony rides and a play area for children. All are safely outside the range of falling pumpkins.

Fall Harvest Festival (Oct. 6) – Wilde Prairie Winery, Brandon

If a harvest festival is happening at a winery, the chances are good that visitors can stomp some grapes to celebrate. That’s definitely the case at Wilde Prairie Winery, where a mini grape stomp is only part of the fun that also includes vendors, live music, wine, and painting of both faces and pumpkins. Beer made in South Dakota will also be served.

Hobo Marlin’s Pumpkin Train (Oct. 6) – Prairie Village

The ghost of Hobo Marlin “appears” one day a year at Historic Prairie Village 2 miles west of Madison. Visitors can ride the train to the pumpkin patch, and travelers 12 and under get to pick their own pumpkin while supplies last. Where will Hobo Marlin show up? Unknown. Will he appear? Most definitely. Admission is $5 per child 12 and under and $2 for adults and teens. All proceeds benefit the Prairie Village Railroad and Carousel.

Festifall/Candlelight Walk (Oct. 6) – Newton Hills State Park

Don’t be surprised to see a catapult when you show up to Newton Hills State Park. It’s used to launch pumpkins as part of the annual Festifall celebration. Visitors can participate in a seed-guessing contest and carve their own pumpkins, although it’s also completely permissible to bring your own decorated pumpkin for judging. The celebration includes make-and-take craft booths, kids’ games, hayrides through the campgrounds and a campsite-decorating contest. The Candlelight Walk begins at 7:15 p.m., offering strollers a rare opportunity to see nature illuminated only by candles.

Harvest Fest (Oct. 6) – Huron

Kids and adults alike are certain to have a good time at Huron’s Harvest Festival.  Past activities have included a farmers’ market, pumpkin patch, pumpkin painting & carving, Needle in a Haystack, face painting, crafts, candy corn toss, ghost bowling, inflatables, bull riding, Halloween safety education, costume contest, pedal tractor maze, pumpkin receipt contest and more! Whatever events you choose, you’re sure to get into the Halloween spirit. The event is hosted by Huron Connect.

Great Scarecrow Festival (Oct. 11-14) – Huron

Area business and organizations exercise their creative muscle, creating scarecrows that end up displayed in Campbell Park. The public is invited to check out the final product. Make sure your voice is heard by voting for your favorite scarecrow (unless you are an actual crow because, obviously, this event is not for you. Also, crows can read? Whoa!)

Webster Area Pumpkin Fest & Parade of Lights (Oct. 12) – Webster

Follow your nose to the baking contest at this harvest festival. Stick around for the scarecrow contest, poker run, and other activities that promise to be fun for the entire family. After a day of exploration, wind down by sipping on free hot chocolate while watching the amazing light parade at 7 p.m.

Strawbale Winery Harvest Festival (Oct. 13) – Renner

This festival is all about relaxation. Bring the whole family for rounds of beanbags, bocce ball and other games. Attendees can paint pumpkins and corks to the sounds of live music. The festival also doubles as a customer appreciation event, so expect discounts on some wine made on-site at Strawbale Winery.

Harvest Halloween Festival (Oct. 26-27) – Yankton

Do you love autumn and/or parties? If so, you’re likely to have a great time at the Harvest Halloween Festival. Yankton’s Meridian District transforms into a fall-lover’s paradise complete with art market, ghost walk, pig races, chili & waffle feed, hay bale maze, spook house, corn pit, and bounce house. The event wraps up with live music and a costume contest.