Fishing Derby and Buffalo Fest bring Hettinger together

June 1st was full of activities for the family. At the Granary, Dakota Buttes Visitors Council hosted the brand new Buffalo-themed event, Buffalo Fest, and on Mirror Lake, RZ Motors and Runnings hosted the Yank ‘em & Crank ‘em 1st Annual All Fish Derby.

Frank Turner

Those interested in Adams County’s local buffalo history could shop local vendors, listen to local experts give history talks, and even participate in a 3K Buffalo Run.

The entire event was inspired by local author Francie Berg’s publication, “Buffalo Heartbeats Across the Plains.” Her research into the last great buffalo hunts uncovered a whole new way to look at the local buttes and plains.

Buffalo Fest planning committee volunteer Kellie Timm said that Buffalo Fest was a great opportunity for people to learn about the local history and the last great buffalo hunts that happened in Adams County.

“It’s a good time for us to learn some history and have some fun,” said Timm, “and it’s a good excuse to get everyone together and have a new experience.”

To highlight Adams County history, the planning committee brought in different speakers and encouraged them to share their individual expertise on local history.

The event kicked off with John Hausauer recounting the Hugh Glass story and his encounter with a bear at Shade Hill, SD.

“Most people know parts of the Hugh Glass story, but John was able to tell his whole story,” said Timm.

Paleontologists Clint Boyd and Becky Barnes also gave a presentation about what Prehistoric buffalo were like and how the animal has evolved through the ages.

“We had a paleontologist come out of Bismarck and he brought down skulls and talked about what the bison were like during the Ice Age,” said Timm. “The bison were actually much larger than they are today.”

History buff and local author Francie Berg also led a group of roughly 20 tourists on a bus tour through the area. They tour group traveled south of town to view the buttes where the buffalo jumps took place and to see the historic landmarks along the highway.

The event also attracted vendors from the surrounding area. The local quilt shop made special buffalo quilts and crafts. Cow Chip Creations out of Bowman sold rustic furniture at a stand. Artists from the surrounding area and even from Fargo sold prints, paintings, and postcards at the event.

“We did have one lady out of Belle Fourche and she came with potato warmers and embroidered dish cloths,” said Timm.

Timm attributed the success of the event to all of the other local events and activities happening in the area on the same weekend.

“We were very impressed with our turnout. We were very pleased, ” she said. “If someone was in town visiting for the rummage sale, they could stop down and grab a hotdog from the 4H kids. There was a little something for everyone.”

The RZ Motors and Runnings fishing derby was also a big draw for people to come visit Hettinger. According to Runnings Manager Collin Blade, 18 paid teams signed up for the derby along with numerous children participated in the event.

“I was pretty impressed with the size of catfish and the amount of fish that people caught,” said Blade. “Altogether there were 140-160 pounds of fish caught right out of Mirror Lake. There was even a 7 pound, 8 ounce catfish caught.”

Winners of the paid derby won 90% of all entry fees, which was between the top three teams. There were also numerous other prizes for big fish categories and for the Kid’s Derby.

The winning teams are as follows:

1st place coming in with 23lbs 6oz of fish were Ben Geaumont and Alex Rischette

2nd place coming in with 17lbs 13oz of fish were Robert Jones and Carson Kari

3rd place coming in with 16lbs of fish were Braden Jahner and John Jahner.

In a Facebook post, the RZ Motors team said “The buzz for this tourney was awesome and we look forward to next year!”

Blade made sure to thank everyone who participated in making the event possible saying, “Really, the volunteers are the ones who made this day possible. We couldn’t have done it without their help.”

Both events succeeded in bringing Hettinger together and in bringing more people to town. Next year, the events will only be bigger and better.