Labor Day weekend is less than two weeks away, and that means it’s time to start thinking about “The Fair” on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in remote north-central South Dakota.
Each year, Cheyenne River residents and visitors congregate in Eagle Butte, South Dakota for the annual Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Fair, Rodeo & Powwow—this year’s festivities are scheduled for Friday, August 29 to Monday, September 1.
In conjunction with its ongoing 25th anniversary celebrations, Cheyenne River Youth Project is playing a major role on the weekend calendar, with a signature edition of Midnight Basketball; a community give-away; a special CRYP float in the Labor Day Parade; and full breakfast, lunch and dinner service at the Keya Cafe.
“We’ll kick off the celebration on Friday with a special fair edition of Midnight Basketball,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director. “It’s open to youth ages 13-18 in our Cokata Wiconi gymnasium.”
Also on Friday, CRYP will open its weekly Leading Lady Farmers Market at 9 a.m. The market has booth space to accommodate 10 independent community vendors, and it will run until 4 p.m. that day at the youth project’s East Lincoln Street campus.
Fair-goers will have an opportunity to peruse the farmers market’s bountiful selection of naturally grown, non-GMO, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables from the two-acre Winyan Toka Win garden, homemade preserves, hand-crafted jewelry, and artwork. Set-up will begin at 8 a.m. Friday; community members who would like to be included in the farmers market can pick up registration forms at the CRYP office in the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center.
On Saturday at 6 p.m., the grassroots, nonprofit youth project will host a 25th Anniversary Community Give-Away at the Eagle Butte wacipi grounds. Staff and volunteers will be hard at work assembling a 25th anniversary float for Eagle Butte’s Labor Day Parade, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday morning.
“It’s a very, very 25th anniversary weekend,” noted Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, with a laugh. “The year is winding down, and with it, our 12 months of 25th anniversary celebrations. This is a special weekend for the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation and for the Eagle Butte community, so we want to go all-out.
“The float, in particular, is a big deal,” she added. “Our parade contribution has become a community favorite, and we’re really looking forward to unveiling it on Monday morning.”
In addition, CRYP’s acclaimed Keya Cafe will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the holiday weekend.
“We’ll be offering our regular breakfast and lunch menus, as well as Indian tacos, menudo, wojapi, frybread, nachos, panini sandwiches, and soups,” Garreau said. “We’ll also have a build-your-own burger menu, including jalapeño cheddar burgers, cheeseburgers and chili burgers.”
Garreau said she’s pleased that the youth project can play such a significant role on what has proven to be Cheyenne River’s biggest weekend of the year.
“Not only does our entire community look forward to the fair for months, we welcome dancers, riders and visitors from around the country to share in our reservation-wide celebration,” she said. “Our mission is to ensure that CRYP is a true gathering place. A positive, safe place for our youth to socialize and play ball, yes, but also a place for our family, friends, neighbors, and guests to come together, enjoy good food and great company, and share this happy annual experience.”
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call 605-964-8200 or visit LakotaYouth.org.