City of festivals, fairs & events
Hot Harley Nights
Sioux Falls continues to grow in popularity as a host city for annual festivals and new events. Festivals find homes across the city – at soccer fields, fairgrounds and on downtown streets.
These annual events also have an impact on the city´s economy and the quality of life for residents. Several events serve as major fundraisers for non-profit organizations in the community.
For events like Hot Harley Nights, which started out 19 years ago with 250 participants and a handful of enthusiastic volunteers, this year´s event could bring approximately 40,000 enthusiasts from across the U.S. and Canada to Sioux Falls. Since its inception, more than $1.8 million has been raised for Make-A-Wish South Dakota.
But charities aren´t the only beneficiaries – major events like Hot Harley Nights bring visitors who spend money in the community at hotels, restaurants, gas stations and retail stores.
"Sioux Falls is a great host city for festivals because we have such strong volunteers here who make them happen. Additionally, our regional location, reasonable cost, great selection of hotels and restaurants all fold into the mix of why people want to come to festivals and events in Sioux Falls," said Teri Schmidt, Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director. "We are known as a city that keeps hosting events and keeps adding new events so people from around the region watch us closely to see what´s happening."
Development along the Big Sioux River has created more opportunities to utilize this natural feature. Downtown Riverfest debuted last year and will return again this summer.
"Downtown Riverfest was an extremely successful first time event, and thanks to the beauty of the redeveloped Big Sioux, the atmosphere could not have been more beautiful," said Downtown Sioux Falls Event Director Maureen Ohm. Downtown Riverfest is just one of the annual events managed by DTSF. "This space is provides a gorgeous venue for an event, and a lovely place to walk or bike on any given day."
Ohm said Sioux Falls is a good city to plan events because permitting agencies with the City of Sioux Falls are easy to work with and there is a defined event process to follow. Sioux Falls has lots of resources from ample rental companies to beautiful venues and citizens willing to step up and volunteer, she said.
After noticing lack of events and festivals geared toward younger people, 605 Magazine Publisher Alana Snyder and her team created the 605 Summer Classic, which just held its 5th annual event in June.
"We have a lot of amazing concerts and festivals held in the area each year, but it seemed there was a void for younger people in South Dakota," Snyder said. "605 Magazine has had a great music following from our magazine's band coverage, so we wanted to try to put on a show infused with different genres of local, regional and national acts for readers, such as hip hop and indie rock."
Since it started, the 605 Summer Classic has grown to a two-day event and moved to Cherapa Place which has allowed for more room. The two-day festival features both local and national musicians. Snyder believes events and festivals find success in Sioux Falls, particularly in the summer, because residents appreciate the weather.
"Sioux Falls really appreciates summertime because it's their time to thaw out from the bitter fall, winter and spring and finally let loose outside to great music, food and beverages," she said.
For event planners, staying on top of trends and taking advantage of facilities or new developments may be key to success.
"The important thing is for us not to become complacent," said Schmidt with the CVB. "We need to continue to realize the enjoyment and value of festivals and events, both for visitors and our citizens´ quality of life."
The following is just a sampling of some of the events and activities taking place in Sioux Falls the rest of the summer. Use the contact information for more details about the event or go to www.siouxfallsevents.com for other events taking place in the city.
Hot Harley Nights
Location: Various locations
Hot Harley Nights has become a tradition in Sioux Falls that´s grown to bring thousands of generous people together each year in support of children with life-threatening medical conditions. This year´s event features a huge motorcycle parade spanning 6.7 miles in Sioux Falls, a casino run, live music, motorcycle raffle, bike show, silent auction, a variety of great food and a an outdoor party at Falls Park West.
Hot Summer Nites
Location: Phillips and Main avenues from 9th to 14th streets, plus 11th, 12th and 13th streets between.
The "hottest nite" of year features great music, food, drinks and some of the sweetest rides you´ll see in one place. The Harley parade is at 6:45 p.m. and The Rumbles will perform from 7:30-10 p.m.
Sioux Falls JazzFest
Location: Yankton Trail Park
An annual tradition, the free Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues-JazzFest, features two stages with 18 hours of music, as well as beer and wine gardens, food vendors, a children´s area, art vendors and much more. JazzFest is a fundraiser for Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Jazz & Blues raises money through the sale of beverages at the festival.
Location: Strawbale Winery, Renner
Folk Off at Strawbale Winery is a two-day folk music competition, and concert. Musical acts will compete for cash and a slot to play at the Sioux River Folk Festival, the following week. There will be food, beverages, and shopping vendors during the event.
Dakota Irish Fair
Location: Falls Park West 5th Street & Phillips Avenue Downtown Sioux Falls
Admission is free to this annual Irish Fair featuring Irish music, children´s events, rugby matches, food, beverages and Irish gift vendors.
South Dakota Peach Festival
Location: Yankton Trail Park
This new event features two fun-filled days of live music, activities, vendors and delicious foods, hosted by The Fruit Club. The highlight is fresh Georgia peaches, peach cobbler, peach ice cream, live music, activities and inflatables for the kids. Proceeds benefit the South Dakota Special Olympics Building Unity campaign.
75th Annual Sioux Empire Fair
Location: W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds
Explore unique fair food and commercial vendors at the 10-day fair. Pro rodeo, horse shows, livestock shows, contests, local artists, and family entertainment are all free with fair admission. Visit the website for the complete schedule of events. Attendance in 2013 was 307,398, a 5.8 percent increase from 2012 attendance.
Location: Downtown Riverfront from 6th Street to south of 8th Street
Enjoy live music, art, kids´ activities, food, beverage and retail vendors and more at this 2nd annual Sioux Falls festival that embraces the beauty of the Big Sioux River. Unique lighting design is a key element to the evening, as LED illumination will be prominent along the riverfront, and a fireworks display will close out the evening.
Location: Worthing, S.D.
The South Dakota Festival is the largest and most well known aspect of the ministry and is offered free to the public. LifeLight Festival started on a church lawn for one night in 1998 and has grown into one of the nation´s largest music festivals. Held annually over Labor Day weekend, the festival attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country and world.
Sidewalk Arts Festival
Location: Downtown Sioux Falls
The Sidewalk Arts Festival is the Sioux Falls region´s largest one-day outdoor festival. The festival draws thousands of visitors and showcases more than 225 fine art, folk art, and craft booths from more than 10 states. The Sidewalk Arts Festival is the largest annual fundraiser for the Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion, the region´s premier cultural, educational and entertainment facility. Annually, the festival is held the first Saturday after Labor Day.
Location: Falls Park West, downtown Sioux Falls
Germanfest is based on the Bavarian Oktoberfest. The day´s events feature activities for children, live music, food and beverages. Proceeds from the local Germanfest go toward the event for next year as well as scholarship funding and helping promote cultural exchanges.