South Dakota festivals featured in Prairie Days: A Dakota Life Special South Dakota Public Television premieres Prairie Days: A Dakota Life Special, a colorful documentary about five South Dakota celebrations, on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m.
The lively program celebrates South Dakota's rich heritage through five unique events held across in the state. The five festivals represent America's melting pot and bring together customs and traditions that are part of life in South Dakota.
Highlighted festivals include the Milbank Train Festival, Homesteader Harvest Days near Brandon/Valley Springs, Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant near DeSmet, Fort Meade Cavalry Days in Sturgis and the Dalesburg Midsommar festival near Vermillion.
Milbank Train Festival
Over a hundred years ago, the Milbank area was an open prairie. That all changed when the railroad came to town. With the tracks, crossings and cars, the railroad brought many settlers and is responsible for many of the towns in South Dakota, including Milbank. Each summer, Milbank celebrates its heritage during the Milbank Train Festival. Prairie Days takes viewers on a train ride through the festival in an authentic 1911 dining car. Other fun events on board for the ride are a re-enacted train holdup, arts in the park, a "burnout competition" and more!
The Homestead Act of 1862 is perhaps one of the most important pieces of legislation in United States history. Settlers from all walks of life came to South Dakota to make a living off the land. Now, 140 years later, residents near Valley Springs and Brandon remember the past during the annual Homesteader Day Harvest Festival. Attendees take a step back in time to live like these settlers by participating in activities like threshing, and pioneer crafts such as quilting, spinning, broom making, candle dipping, rope making and wet plate photography, just to name a few.
Each summer, volunteer actors re-create scenes from the pioneer days of De Smet, when Laura and her family first settled at this "Little Town on the Prairie." Pageant days are filled with visitors touring the buildings and landmarks from Laura's books. During the evenings, guests sit out on same stretch of prairie that Laura, Mary, Carrie and baby Grace used to explore as visitors watch the actors re-create scenes from Laura's life. Prairie Days looks at the town, the pageant and the people who make it happen.
Fort Meade Cavalry Days
When people think of Sturgis, the Motorcycle Rally often comes to mind. But early each summer, the sounds of those motorcycles are replaced with hoof beats. Welcome to Cavalry Days, a yearly celebration of the area's military heritage. During this festival, Old West, Cavalry and Native American re-enactors share their love of history. Highlighted events include the opening ceremonies on the Fort Meade grounds, the cowboy stew cookoff, the 1800s fashion show and more.
Midsommar at Dalesburg
It's fun in the summertime as Midsommar comes around. This traditional Swedish event celebrated at Dalesburg Lutheran Church for more than 130 years, attracts people from miles around. They flock to the rural Vermillion church each year to celebrate the summer solstice. Attendees enjoy a Scandinavian smorgasbord, arts and crafts, dancing, games and the raising of the Midsommar pole.
Prairie Days: A Dakota Life Special is part of SDPTV's annual Winterfest membership drive. Prairie Days is made possible by the members of Friends of South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
For information about this or other South Dakota Public Broadcasting programs, call 1-800-456-0766 or visit the SDPB Web site (www.sdpb.org).