The 55th annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup is tomorrow, but the 27th annual Arts Festival that helps celebrate the roundup begins its 3-day run today at the park near the State Game Lodge.
The Festival not only has dozens of vendors of all sorts, there’s also western and bluegrass music. The hours are 10-6:00 today, 9-7:00 tomorrow, and 9-4:00 on Sat. A state park entrance license is needed today and Sat, but not tomorrow.
The Buffalo Roundup, more accurately a bison roundup, began as a key management tool for Custer State Park, bringing all the park’s bison together in one location for medical checkups, vaccinations, and culling.
Culling – reducing the number of animals in the wild to keep numbers within the carrying capacity of the park – results in some of the excess animals being sold either for slaughter or for private herds while some are slaughtered and the meat served at South Dakota Game, FIsh, and Parks locations.
Division of Parks and Recreation Director Scott Simpson says the roundup “ is an event unlike any other in the world (as) the West comes alive on Roundup morning and leaves guests with memories that last a lifetime.”
The Roundup has drawn around 20,000 visitors in recent years, but Simpson says park officials don’t have a good estimate on how many will show up tomorrow because of COVID-19. To be on the safe side, they’re planning to again reach about 20,000.
The Roundup begins tomorrow morning at 9:30 with the parking areas near the corrals along the Wildlife Loop Road opening at 6:15 and closing at 9:30.. For safety reasons, spectators need to remain in the viewing areas until all the buffalo are corralled which typically occurs around noon.