Cool temperatures, fog, and rain, did not deter thousands of people from enjoying the 67th Annual Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Fair and Rodeo, over the Labor Day weekend.
Events kicked off on Tuesday with the Takoja Games at the City of Eagle Butte softball field, where children enjoyed games and activities, along with a kids obstacle course, happily claiming their reward of a carnival bracelet.
Physical fitness was a common theme throughout the fair, with a variety of physically-challenging events occurring almost every day. The Ohitika Challenge tested participants’ endurance and strength with circuit stations that included a mud crawl and flipping of a large tire. The family-friendly glow run required four-person teams comprised of family members to work together to complete a one-mile relay.
Hundreds of people showed their support at the youth bike races, with parents helping their toddlers ride their tricycles and scooters across the finish line.
Culture and traditions were also important themes throughout the celebration, and was showcased daily at the four-day powwow with traditional giveaways, honorings, and memorials. Southern Style, this year’s host drum group was gifted a large pot of boiled buffalo meat to soothe their throats, and they, in turn, shared the meal with other drum groups.
Lakota cultural skills were on display at the Lakota Art Market & Domestic Exhibit where many artists showcased their artwork through different mediums such as painting, woodwork, pottery, beading, fashion designing, and food preservation.
A popular category was the Traditional Lakota/Dried Foods division where fragrant braids of timpsila were displayed, and jars of chokecherry jams were tasted by judges. The youth were also recognized for their art that encompassed Lakota traditions and included handmade drums and paintings of powwow and sun dancers.
New CRST royalty were crowned at both the powwow and rodeo, with each title holder excited and ready to represent their nation and families this coming year. Former title holders served as mentors leading up to the crownings, and helped guide each contestant with lessons on life and leadership.
The four-legged were also in the spotlight at the ever-popular Rez Dog Show, that was organized by Wakpa Waste Animal Shelter Director Ethel Morgan. Dogs of all sizes and breeds came prepared to impress judges with their outfits, struts, and their eagerness to obey commands. Some dogs even wore powwow regalia!
Animals and humans also partnered together at this year’s Play Day event, where children enjoyed horse riding, mutton busting, and ribbon pulling. The popular GPIRA INFR Rodeo, Indian relay and wild horse races added excitement to this year’s events.
The parade theme was, “All our Veterans….Remembering our past, honoring our present, and looking to the future.” The dense fog did lead to some challenges with the parade; however, it also added a surprise factor for spectators as floats emerged from the thick mist for a few seconds and disappeared back into the fog, resulting in delighted “Oohs and aahs” from the audience.
Numerous floats had social justice and awareness messages such as suicide prevention, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and unsolved murder cases from Lakota reservations. “Have you seen my sisters?” was painted in with silhouettes of women – a reminder of the MMIW epidemic across Indian Country.
There were also some “firsts” that took place during the fair, including gourd dancing at the powwow grounds, and for the first time ever, an all-woman group of veterans led the grand entries on Sunday, carrying in the eagle feather and red-tail hawk staffs.
Public safety was an important issue, and in preparation for the influx of visitors and fair-goers, the Tribe hired foot patrol and invited other tribal agencies such as the Rosebud Police Department to aid CRST officers. Among the crimes reported by CRST Law Enforcement were seven DWIs, five drug-related cases, one violent crime between August 29- September 2.
As events wrapped up on Monday evening and the fair came to a close, families camping in tents and RVs could be seen hugging each other and saying “doksa” to their friends, family, and neighbors. The carnival workers packed their equipment and gear, ready to caravan to the next event, just as powwow dancers and rodeo participants did.
It will be an entire year before these events take place again, and in that year, let us take time to not only better ourselves as dancers, artists, horsemen, athletes, but as friends, neighbors, and relatives. Remember and share the memories of this year’s fair events as you turn the pages of our review of the 67th Annual CRST Fair & Rodeo. Enjoy!