Thursday, September 25, 2014
By Charley Najacht
It’s that time of the year again when the roaming buffalo in Custer State Park will be rounded up, sorted and vaccinated.
For the second year in a row, the roundup will take place the morning of the last Friday in September, the 26th.
Visitors to the 49th annual roundup may arrive at the north or south viewing areas as early as 6:15 a.m. when the parking lots open, until 9 a.m. when the lots close.
The actual roundup starts about 9:30 a.m. Guests must stay in the viewing areas until the herd is in the corrals, generally around noon.
From about 1-3 p.m. visitors may observe the buffalo being tested, branded and sorted in the corrals.
For the first time, the big Arts Festival in the park will begin at noon Friday, giving roundup viewers the first crack at the vendor booths.
The Arts Festival will continue Saturday, Sept. 27, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 28, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The 25th annual Buffalo Wallow Chili Cookoff will be held in the arts festival area Sunday, Sept. 28, beginning at 1 p.m. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m.
Spectators purchase chili tastes and then vote for the People’s Choice Award.
Crazy Horse Memorial will host its second fall Volksmarch to the top of the world’s largest mountain carving Sunday, Sept. 28, and Monday, Sept. 29.
Registration for the 6.2 mile event begins at 8 a.m. both days and closes at 1 p.m. Hikers must register at the starting point. The trail closes at 4 p.m.
This is the second time this year that the general public will have the opportunity to climb the trail to the top of the mountain. The first Volksmarch of the year is held annually the first weekend in June.
Approximately 1,300 buffalo will be rounded up for the Friday morning event. About 300 of the animals are sorted and sold at the annual auction later in November. Money from the sale is used to help fund the day-to-day operations of the state park system.
The purpose of the annual roundup is the keep the park’s bison population at a sustainable level with the available grassland forage.
Normally, the park can support about 1,000 bison over the winter.
Buyers from all over the country and Canada have bought bison at the park auction and started herds of their own.