The 7 Hot Springs Summer Events You Don’t Want to Miss

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There’s no question about it – Hot Springs summers are busy! The local kids head to the city parks for summer recreation activities and tourists flock to attractions both indoor and outdoor for reprieve from the hot South Dakota sun. But the greatest thing about summers in Hot Springs is the number of activities and events that bring out hundreds of people to experience the culture of the community, and 2015 is going to be no different. There are all the traditional events, some that have gone on for decades, and there are relatively new ones, but all are sure to entertain. Today, we’re counting down Hot Springs’ 7 Summer 2015 events that you most definitely do NOT want to miss – and always be sure to check the community calendar for other exciting events from local businesses and organizations!

7. Wine Walk & Putt Challenge – May 22, 5-8pm

Last year, the Chamber of Commerce started a brand new event to encourage visitation of downtown retail businesses. Vendors would offer wine, beer, snacks and business-themed mini-golf holes in an evening event to get people into businesses they might not otherwise visit. To say it was a success would be an understatement. The Wine Walk drew a huge crowd to downtown Hot Springs while Chamber staff and volunteers shuttled people up and down the main drag in golf carts on loan from Southern Hills Golf Course, while musicians line the sidewalks and offer their catchiest tunes. The best parts were hearing people say “wow, I’ve never been in that store before; I found something I’ve gotta go back and get later” and watching tourists mingle with locals.

Chamber Executive Director Scott Haden shuttles Wine Walk participants between stops.

6. Screen on the Green, Every Tuesday from June 30-August 18, except July 28. Activities at 7pm, Movie at Dusk.

The Screen on the Green Summer movie series is a brand new cooperative effort among the City of Hot Springs, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hot Springs Public Library, Mueller Civic Center, Empower Coalition, and a host of sponsoring non-profit organizations. Screen on the Green brings the dream of movies in the park, long on the wishlists of many local residents, to life with a full schedule of famous family-friendly movies ranging in release date from the 1960’s to recent years screened on the lawn of the Hot Springs Public Library. Fun games offered by non-profits go with themes like “creativity night” and “science fiction night” that will surely make for memorable summer evenings for all ages in Hot Springs.

City Administrator Nolan Schroeder, Mueller Center manager Chris Kattke, Head Librarian Cindy Taylor, filmmaker & Chamber staff member Justin Gausman, and Chandi Foster and Irene Fleming from Empower Coalition pose with the newly donated outdoors screen for Screen on the Green.

5. FlatIron Market, First Saturday of the Month, June-September, 9am-2pm

Local business owner Kara Hagen noticed that something was missing from Hot Springs – a regular, monthly farmer’s market/bazaar. So she took it upon herself to make it happen. Part of Main Street is closed off one day a month near the Flat Iron Historic Sandstone Inn and top notch vendors and musicians fill the street and alley while people pour in to shop and socialize. It’s a good time for all, and a great way to spend a Saturday morning


4. Fall River Freedom Ride Poker Run, August 2, 9:30am-4:30pm – RALLY WEEK EVENT

Hot Springs is the Veterans Town and during Rally Week, the Post 71 Legion Riders go all out in honor of our military and veterans with the Fall River Freedom Ride. Starting at the State Veterans Home, riders depart for a flag parade and military escort through downtown Hot Springs at 11am, then ride through Custer State Park for a poker run. Riders return to the American Legion in Hot Springs in the evening and the winner is determined – and additional proceeds go to benefit the residents at the State Veterans Home.

Post 71 Legion Riders make a patriotic ride through downtown Hot Springs.

3. Independence Day, July 4 – Day-Long Events

Nowhere in South Dakota does the 4th of July the way the Veterans Town does. From early in the morning on the anniversary of our nation’s founding, Hot Springs is already busy with runners heading out for the 5K/10K/Mile Firecracker races, which start in Centennial Park at 6am. Mid-morning at 10am, countless organizations and businesses turn out in their best floats for the 4th of July parade. Kids, parents and others all line the streets and wave to the float riders passing by. Miss South Dakota even usually comes! Immediately following the parade, the community picnic begins at the Mueller Civic Center and is followed in turn by the Firequacker (get it?) Duck Race, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Hundreds of little rubber ducks (appropriately wearing Uncle Sam top hats) are poured into Fall River and everyone comes to watch and see whose duck comes in first and wins the grand prize!  Then a good old-fashioned demolition derby takes place at the city materials recovery facility along the Hwy 18 Bypass and just shortly after dusk, fireworks are launched in a stunning display. If you’re visiting the Black Hills during the 4th of July – make a plan to come to Hot Springs and experience it with The Veterans Town!

Kids race to collect the rubber ducks in the duck race. We thought about changing it to the "Super-quak-a-splash-a-riffic-expa-yellow Duck Race" but it didn't quite fit on the ads, so it's the FireQuacker!

2. Miss South Dakota Pageant, June 18-20, Numerous events

Of all the Miss America-associated pageants, Miss South Dakota is the only pageant that has remained in the same city since its inception and Hot Springs proudly welcomes in a bevy of beautiful, intelligent and extremely talented young women for a week and makes them feel at home. The pageant contestants visit veterans at the VA and State Home as well as make appearances elsewhere in the community throughout the week, then the competition gets underway in the evening events, which are high-caliber productions that are stunning and even emotional. Hot Springs is proud to be home to the Miss South Dakota Pageant and if you’re in town that week, you do NOT want to miss a night of it! Learn more at the pageant’s official website.

Miss South Dakota

1. Main Street Arts & Crafts Festival, June 26-28

The Main Street Arts & Crafts Festival began in Hot Springs in 1976, a dream project of local business owners Art and Beulah Donnell, to showcase the work of local and regional artisans. Hot Springs’s Centennial Park, downtown across from City Hall, was chosen for its length, similar to a street (hence the name Main Street). In its earliest years, only local artists participated, but as it grew, it has expanded to include artisans – who must produce handcrafted, not commercial or machine-made crafts – from across the Midwest region and draws in hundreds of people for a three-day showcase of art, food, music, activities and more. At many times, the festival has taken place the same weekend as Miss SD and the contestants appear for photos and autographs. This is a favorite event of so many, and is sure to be a great event in summer 2015. Learn more at the Main Street Arts & Crafts official website.

Main Street Arts Crafts Festival - Hot Springs

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