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The Magic of Autumn in South Dakota

Sep 24, 2019

Ride along the Herman & Milwaukee Railroad in Madison's Prairie Village and then find your favorite pumpkin. Photo by Historic Prairie Village.

Autumn in South Dakota is magical for me. Our state comes alive with gatherings that bring out the best we have to offer — unique foods and events (see “Dinner with a Ghost” below) and community spirit.

Apple pickings, pumpkin carvings, barn dances, Oktoberfest feasts, scarecrow contests and lots of other parties are always planned. Each and every one takes a lot of work. I know that firsthand, because our 4-H club in Yankton County once organized a haunted house as a fundraiser.

We labored for weeks on super-sized spider webs, barnwood coffins, graveyard stones and a witch’s brew of body parts made with spaghetti, Jell-O and other gooey stuff from the refrigerator. Jason chased people with his chain saw; every time he started the engine the dads double-checked it to be sure there was no chain. Young children performed as spooks —a creepy bonus we hadn’t anticipated.

Hard work is weirdly part of the fun with South Dakota events, especially when cool weather curtails our outdoor entertainment.

We feature favorite events in every issue of the magazine and our September/October calendar is always one of the fullest, so check it out. Here is just a sampling of this year’s autumn calendar.

  • Sept. 13-14: Dinner with a Ghost, Mitchell. Gourmet meal and paranormal investigation. Corn Palace. Call (503) 569-4753.
  • Sept 25: Haunted Deadwood. A presentation on subjects and theories relating to paranormal investigations. Visit to reserve space for a psychic reading or to be a part of a paranormal investigation.
  • Sept 28: Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival, Rapid City. Beware of flying pumpkins! The competitive Pumpkin Chuckin’ event is one of the highlights of this 11th annual gathering. There is also a pumpkin weigh-off, pub crawl and vendors. Call (605) 716-7979.
  • Sept 28: Living History Fall Festival, Groton. Demonstrations, reenactments, food, kids’ spelling bee, pumpkin decorating and more. Granary Rural Cultural Center. Call (605) 626-7117.
  • Oct. 4-5: Pumpkin Fest and Lighted Night Parade, Webster. Baking contest, wagon rides, kids’ activities, crafts and food. Free hot chocolate during the parade. Call (605) 345-4668 for more information.
  • Oct 5: Pumpkin Train, Madison. Visiting the pumpkin patch is a common family tradition. Madison adds a picturesque railroad experience. The Pumpkin Train at Prairie Village takes guests to the pumpkin patch, where children 12 and under can pick their own. Call (605) 256-3644 for more information.

Let us know if you attend these events — we would love to see any photos you post on social media. Use #sodakmag so we can find them.


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