Fort Pierre is rolling out the red carpet for their 2017 bicentennial |

Fort Pierre is rolling out the red carpet for their 2017 bicentennial

Fort Pierre, SD – Fort Pierre started getting ready for their 2017 Bicentennial Celebration over a year ago. At least 25 members of the Bicentennial Committee and its subcommittees have been meeting since December 2015 almost on a monthly basis. They are preparing for company that they know most surely is coming.

The City Maintenance crews have been working hard to spruce up Fort Pierre’s appearance for this historic celebration. Main Street and Deadwood Avenue have been resurfaced; the Casey Tibbs turnout has also been redone to withstand traffic and Casey himself (spinner statue) is getting new clothes for the celebration. Next to the turnout, Fort Volunteer will answer the question many visitors pose of “Where is the fort?” A signage program that will include 16-¬‐18 new directional signs has been activated through Fort Pierre Tourism and Promotion Council. Historical tours began operating the summer of 2016 and will continue every summer.

A Bicentennial Marketing Committee, Events & Activities Committee, Community Engagement Committee, and Budget and Fundraising Committee have put together preliminary plans for 2017. A marketing plan is in place and Bicentennial advertising and promotion has begun and will continue through the next 9 months. Lance Nixon, former editor at Capital Journal, has been commissioned to write a Fort Pierre History Book that will be largely pictorial in nature.

This year’s main event will coincide with the Dakota Western Heritage Festival (DWHF) on September 15, 16 and 17th. This will be a bigger than life celebration that combines the DWHF and the Stirling Family Ranch Rodeo on the same weekend.

A Bicentennial New Year’s Eve Kickoff featured a Bull Riding at the Schomer Arena attended by 750-1,000, a fireworks display from Verendrye Hill, and a Randy McAllister concert at Drifters.

Fort Pierre Tourism and Promotion Council has committed to sponsoring the South Dakota Tourism Conference Reception in January 2017. The Tourism Gala will be held at Drifters Event Center in Fort Pierre. A Fort Pierre Chateau replica backdrop will be part of the décor along with furs, tents and a camp site. There will be two bars (beer and punch) and food will consist of beef stew, biscuit or fry bread, game on a stick (buffalo, beef, walleye, chicken), veggie and fruit trays. The Dakota Western Heritage Festival folks will be there in their Western regalia and plan to provide a wagon or sleigh. Transportation to the social will be provided from 7 to 9:30 p.m. by River City Transit.

On the weekend of the Casey Tibbs Matched Ride, June 3rd, Verendrye Museum is planning a Bicentennial Commemorative Wagon Train. They are inviting two wagons and teams from every county in South Dakota to participate in an All Horse Drawn Parade. The parade is scheduled for the streets of Fort Pierre the afternoon of the rodeo. After the rodeo, the Fort Pierre Fire Department is planning a street dance.

A yearlong “Bicentennial Blitz” is planned and community and area businesses are being encouraged to plan their own events around the Bicentennial to carry the Bicentennial theme. Some additional activities being consider during the year are a concert series, a pow-wow, rendezvous, relay races, trader days, re-enactments, block parties, carnivals, and a 3-day 4th of July Rodeo and Fair . Fort Pierre is planning a yearlong party!

It is no accident that the town of Fort Pierre is located where it is. Because of geography and the abundance of wildlife, many groups visited, settled on, or pursued control of the land where Fort Pierre is now located. A number of American Indian tribes, including the Arikara and bands of the Nakota, Lakota, and Dakota (commonly collectively referred to as the Sioux), all inhabited the area because of its natural advantages. Fort Pierre was at the heart of all the big roundups from 1880 to 1910 and was a gathering place for the roundup cowboys. It is probable that Fort Pierre was the earliest or one of the earliest 4th of July rodeos in South Dakota and possibly in the West.

The Bicentennial Celebration Weekend Activities

September 15-17, 2017 will include:

• A historic parade to include the DWHF wagon train

• Official dignitaries program kick off following the parade

• Community steak feed

• 5k run Saturday Morning

• Dakota Western Heritage Festival

• Arts Festival Saturday & Sunday

• Saturday Night Concert

• Stirling Family Ranch Rodeo

• Helicopter Rides

–Fort Pierre Bicentennial

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