The leaves are changing colors, the air is a little crisper, and Halloween is just around the corner—it’s finally fall! With spooky nights, pumpkin spice, and cozy sweaters, autumn is one of the best seasons. To make the most of your season, check out these 10 excellent fall festivals in South Dakota!
Rapid City’s Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival has activities for every conceivable pumpkin activity, with pumpkin carving, pumpkin dish cooking challenge, the Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off, pumpkin catapult, and (of course) a pumpkin patch. One of the most anticipated events is the pumpkin catapult. Teams from local high schools and colleges face off to see who constructed the best catapult. Another fun event is the pumpkin weigh off. Local farmers worked to grow the largest pumpkin possible, and the heaviest one wins a prize! One year, the biggest pumpkin weighed in at 1,292 pounds! The festival has shopping, food vendors, crafts, games, and music. Afterwards, take part in the downtown Pumpkin Pub Crawl.
It won’t only be the scarecrows that are spooky at this fall festival. Huron’s Great Scarecrow Festival judges weird, comical, and frightening scarecrow creations. This unique festival is the perfect kickoff to autumn! It is held in the town in mid-October. Check the city’s website for this year’s dates.
Craft and food vendors, a baking contest, apple pie and pumpkin carving contests, an antique tractor show, local entertainment, music, and sidewalk sales are all going on at the Spearfish Harvest Fest, held annually at the beginning of fall. Visitors to the festival can get great deals on fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, tomatoes, corn, and other fall favorites. Downtown Spearfish is the place to be for this fall fest!
These two small South Dakota towns band together each year to put on the area's best fall festival! The Chamberlain-Oacoma Fall Festival has events for everyone, including a farmers market, open air market, scavenger hunt, vendor fair, homecoming window decorating, pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating contest, bake and craft sale, story and craft time for kids, lunch, food preserving contest, talent show, wine tasting competition, and pumpkin chunkin' competition. Kids events include face painting, train ride, costume contest, and games like cornhole and a bean bag toss
The scenic Lewis and Clark Recreation Area hosts the annual fall celebration for the city of Yankton. Under the beautiful changing fall foliage are fun activities for the whole family. There will be live music, obstacle course, archery, air rifles, games, crafts, Dutch oven cooking, and more. Fall in the Park at Lewis & Clark is one event that cannot be missed!
The town of Webster may be small, but the Pumpkin Fest sure isn’t! Each year in October, the town is turned into pumpkin central. Events include contests for the largest pumpkin, pumpkin decorating, pumpkin pie eating, pumpkin baking, and a parade of lights after nightfall. Head to Webster to see gigantic pumpkins and eat unbelievably good pumpkin pie.
At Newton Hills State Park in Canton, the scenic prairie welcomes visitors to the FestiFall and Candlelight Walk. The festival includes events like arts, crafts, kids games, hay rides, live music, pumpkin decorating contest, pumpkin carving demonstrations, and pumpkin catapult. The Candlelight Walk leads visitors around two miles of trails lit by candlelight. Follow the lights and glowing pumpkins around the woods of Newton Hills.
Head to the Wilde Prairie Winery in Brandon for the annual Harvest Festival. This family-friendly event includes pumpkin painting, kids games, and live music. The festival will have food trucks from local restaurants and a variety of vendors. Check their website for a complete schedule of events and directions to the countryside winery.
The annual Sioux Falls Autumn Festival is an arts and crafts fair. It is held each year in late October at the Denny Sanford Premier Center Arena & Convention Center. This festive event features seemingly endless fall-themed vendors. Wander the rows of vendors and look at a huge variety of products from fabric to art to food. Whether a craft-expert or just curious, this Autumn Festival has something for everyone!
If you're a movie buff, you won't want to miss the South Dakota Film Festival held in Aberdeen. Filmmakers from around the region come to Aberdeen to show off their latest works and it gives film lovers a chance to support up-and-coming artists.