I grew up in a town of 5,000. Kids at my high school drove lifted trucks they called rigs and wore cowboy hats. It had an all-American feel, and although I wanted to get out like most kids in small towns, I now look back fondly at my years there. It also means I have more of an affinity for country music than I’d like to admit, and that is certainly something that shocks many people.
Pulling into Belle Fourche on a Thursday afternoon, felt a lot like going back to my small town. Except we were in rolling green hills of South Dakota’s Black Hills, not the forested Pacific Northwest of my childhood.
Belle Fourche is pronounced Bell Foosh. We noticed a lot of locals just call it Bell. The French translation is “beautiful fork.” It was named so because the Belle Fourche River and Redwater River converge here.
Debra Elliott, owner of Life Light Creative is 100% responsible for my visit to this town. She is the person who has been keeping HeidiTown.com up and running for many years. Debra moved to Belle Fourche from Colorado in 2014. She isn’t only an advocate for the community, she has helped create Visit Belle Fourche.
We stayed at her house during this visit, at the beautiful Belle Fourche Country Club, along with our dog, Fritzi. Debra is a dog-person who has a golden retriever named Milly that is full of love for everyone and lives to chase golf balls.
At the heart of this visit was the Black Hills Roundup, a 103-year-old rodeo that takes place over the 4th of July weekend in Belle Fourche. The festivities start with a Ranch Rodeo on Thursday, there are fireworks on two nights, and lots of rodeo and a huge parade in downtown Belle Fourche. The event is a big deal in this part of the world.
We’d arrived in time for Ranch Rodeo which also features a Community BBQ and it is free. Free food was our introduction to Belle Fourche. We had both worn cowboy boots that night, mine have even been on a few horses over the years. It was a beautiful evening with no breeze. By the way, I got to meet the Mayor of Belle Fourche!
We were first introduced to Ranch Rodeo in Pagosa Springs and I actually prefer it to regular rodeo. The teams usually come from local businesses or ranches in the area. These men and women are often used to working together and they perform many tasks that they would do in a real ranch setting. Except for Wild Cow Milking, I am pretty sure that’s never done outside a rodeo.
The stands at the Black Hills Roundup Rodeo are brand new. We found that the view from the Party Deck provided a nice area for taking photos. I am by no means a professional photographer, but here are a few shots. We had a blast at this event.
The next two nights of PRCA Rodeo continued for the rest of the weekend and Monday. There was an impressive firework show on both Saturday and Sunday. One of the highlights was Tomas Garcilazo – Horseman & Rope Artist. I didn’t get any good photos but he is an unbelievably good horseman. His 7-year-old son joined him and it was amazing.
If you like rodeo, this is one to put on the list. There are vendors selling everything from saddles to knives and food vendors too. In fact, every night, they were grilling up delicious looking burgers, although we settled on pizza which was available closer to where we were sitting.
The Black Hills Roundup also has live bands, a carnival in downtown Belle Fourche and a golf tournament. There were even some Colorado cowgirls and cowboys in the PRCA Rodeo events, and you can be sure I cheered loudly. Other groups use the rodeo grounds during the summer for rodeos and ranch-related activities. They consists of a rodeo arena, and soccer and baseball fields.
Stay tuned to HeidiTown.com for much more on our visit to Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
Thank you to Visit Belle Fourche for hosting our stay and to Debra Elliott for being graciously opening her home to us, and to Milly for putting up with Fritzi.