Feel the THUNDER

Buffalo Roundup Set Oct. 3 in South Dakota’s Black Hills

CUSTER, SD — (MARKET WIRE) — 09/01/2005 — The thunder of 6,000 hooves stampeding through the Rolling Hills and mountain meadows of South Dakota Black Hills will again be heard Oct. 3 when Custer State Park conducts its 40th Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Standing up to six feet tall and weighing nearly a ton, the American bison is North America’s largest land animal. Custer State Park, a 71,000-acre preserve in the southern Black Hills, is home to nearly 1,500 of these shaggy beasts, a herd that ranks among the largest publicly owned herds in the world. In order to give vaccinations, take accurate counts and maintain herd numbers, park officials corral the animals each fall in preparation for the annual sale.

In the mid-1960s, that seemed like an appropriate reason to have a celebration. Forty years later, that get-together — dubbed the Buffalo Roundup — is one of Custer State Park’s most popular events. According to park Visitor Services Coordinator Craig Pugsley, thousands of visitors assemble at the crack of dawn to stake out the best places to watch hundreds of bison come stampeding over the hills.

“It’s grown from a few hundred people yahooin’ up on the hill when the buffalo come by to more than 8,500 people last year,” he said. “It’s gotten a lot more popular through the years. It really started gaining in popularity after the movie ‘Dances with Wolves.’ It’s been on an uphill climb ever since.”

While the actual stampede doesn’t happen until the early hours of Monday morning, the celebration begins on Saturday near the State Game Lodge with a pancake feed and exhibitions by regional artists and craftsmen.

Visitors also discover South Dakota-made products, a chili cook-off and entertainment by cowboy poets, country singers and Lakota dancers Oct. 1-3.

The event’s grand finale is the roundup itself, which happens sometime between 9 a.m. and Noon on Monday.

“The rounder-uppers have to get all organized and behind the buffalo,” Puglsey explains, noting that bison only move when they feel like it. However, because of the large number of people who attend, Pugsley suggests arriving at the corrals along Wildlife Loop Road between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m.

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