Soap Box Derby & Barrel Races – A Labor Day to Remember!

September 2018 – When we were in the town of Buffalo, South Dakota, buying groceries, we noticed a flyer on the window that gave a detailed listing of all the many things that were going to be happening over Labor Day Weekend. For a town of 380 people, it seemed like this community was going to be celebrating in style.

All kinds of events were planned, from calf roping to arm wrestling to rodeo kids events to a parade to golf tournaments to movies in the evening to street games and singing and dancing. But it was the Soap Box Derby we wanted to see!

Soap box race trophes Buffalo SD Labor Day weekend-min

1st, 2nd and 3rd prize trophies for the Soap Box Derby.

The Soap Box Derby is held on Tabernacle Hill on the edge of town where the road goes down at a gentle angle that is just right for the younger set. The “soap boxes” were a little more sophisticated than the wooden crates we imagined. Sporting steering wheels and sized about like a little red wagon (perhaps a few wagons had been converted for the race!), they looked like a lot of fun to ride.

The Soap Box carts are cute wagons-min

The little buggies weren’t quite soap boxes but sure looked like fun to ride!

In the traditional of all great sporting events, before the Soap Box Derby began we all sang the National Anthem.

Singing the National Anthem before the soap box races in Buffalo SD-min

Before the races started we sang the National Anthem.

Then the kids climbed into their carts on a starting ramp. To avoid congestion and pileups, the kides raced each other in pairs. The winner of each race advanced to the next round in quarter-final, semi-final and final events.

The soap box races begin in Buffalo SD-min

A starting ramp was set up for pairs of kids to race side by side down the hill.

And then they were off down the ramp and onto the road.

And they are off on the soap box races-min

And they’re off!

The race is on at the soap box derby-min

.

The kids were pretty competitive and kept a close eye on each other as they urged their buggies to fly down the hill.

Who is winning the soap box race-min

The competition was serious!

Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

The white car takes the lead!!

Even if they didn’t win, they were having a blast with these little soap box cars.

Buffalo SD Labor Day weekend Soap box races_-min

All smiles…this is so much fun!

When they got to the bottom of the hill they got a tow back up from friendly helpers in golf carts.

Getting a tow Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

After each run the kids got a tow back to the top of the hill.

Happy soap box racer gets a tow up the hill-min

It was almost as much fun going up the hill as it was going down!

The whole town came out to watch the races. Some of us sat on the curb and some brought out lawn chairs. Two kids watched from perches in an old tree stump.

Watching the soap box races-min

Two girls got the best seats in the house.

We got a kick out of catching the action as the kids rolled down the hill. There were no pedals or motors. You just rolled off the ramp and hung on and tried to keep the buggy going straight (a few went off the road onto the grass!).

Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

Riding to victory!

Soap box races Buffalo SD Labor Day weekend-min

All the kids had to wear helmets. We really liked this one!

Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

The design of each “soap box” was unique.

Getting a tow Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

I don’t know who was having more fun, the kids or the parents and grandparents!

At the bottom of the hill members of the high school football team caught the riders as they crossed the finish line.

Finish line Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

The finish line was at the bottom of the hill.

The winner is... Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

Members of the football team caught the kids at the bottom.

Up at the top of the hill the Gospel Tabernacle gave out free snow cones. The blue raspberry ones were yummy!

Blue raspberry snow cones at the soap box races in Buffalo SD-min

The free blue raspberry snow cones were going fast.

When the races were over and the trophies had been given out, we wandered over to the rodeo grounds to see what was happening there. Three little kids were practicing their barrel racing skills, and boy were they good!

Young barrel racers in Buffalo SD-min

Over at the rodeo stadium some little kids were barrel racing.

Hair flying on horseback-min

Riding a horse is easy! (If you’re four).

The kids weren’t super fast on their horses, but these little tykes could make their horses do whatever they wanted.

When they first filed into the rodeo grounds all three of them headed in the wrong gate. A helpful mom called to them to go back out and then go in a different gate. I thought there would be a pile-up of hooves and bridles and flicking tales and flaring nostrils. But instead these three kids very neatly backed their horses up out the gate and headed them down to the correct gate, as if it were nothing!

Barrel racer heads to the first barrel on the course-min

A little cowgirl heads towards the first barrel.

Young barrel racer rounds the barrel on her horse-min

…and heads around the first barrel.

Barrel racer takes her horse around the barrel-min

She makes the turn nice and close to the barrel.

Rounding the barrel in a horseback barrel race_-min

And the she picks up speed on the way out of the turn.

On to the next barrel in a horse barrel race-min

On to the next barrel!

We saw the kids afterwards walking three abreast across the field. Mark congratulated them on their riding skills and asked them which one of them was the best rider. All three hands shot up in the air. “Me,” “Me,” Me!”

Then we came across the mom who had been working with them and complimented her on their skills. She grinned and told us they were four, five and six years old. Holy smokes!!

Expert young horseback rider uses one hand on the reins-min

The little kids had a lot of skill — and a little sass too!

What a fun and heartwarming Labor Day celebration this was.

Sunrise in Buffalo South Dakota-min

Sunset in Buffalo, South Dakota, after a great Labor Day weekend!

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Location of Buffalo South Dakota (Google Maps). The Buffalo Trailer Park is at Rte 85 & Three Toes Street.

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10 thoughts on “Soap Box Derby & Barrel Races – A Labor Day to Remember!

  1. Em,
    Wow! Good old fashion fun – no cell phones, tablets, and other gizmos. Just a bit of elbow grease, teamwork, and ingenuity. Only one person has a cell phone and I suspect he was taking a picture. Everyone else is actually paying attention to the kids and the race. And horses and the national anthem too! 😉
    Bob

    • It was so very heartwarming and fun to be a part of this celebration, and we were delighted that even though our faces were new to everyone there we were warmly welcomed. Grandparents, moms and dads were all really into it, and the kids had a ball. We LOVE finding gems like this in small towns around our beautiful country!

  2. And my bet is that everybody there made you feel welcomed!
    No.95 may have been chasing the boys down the hill this year, but that will soon change…they will all be chasing her!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Jeff

    • We felt more than welcome, Jeff. And Buddy is our little personal ambassador too. He especially loves kids and other dogs, and he was having the best time introducing us to everyone. I agree about #95 — she will surely have a line of boys chasing her very soon. So adorable!!!

  3. Wow! Those young barrel racers definitely made me feel like a slacker. Good for them! I’ll have to be sure Alan reads this post – he raced in our local Soap Box Derby when he was a kid and still talks about it. God bless small town America! I’ll bet Buddy would have loved to help hand out the trophies!

    • The young barrel racers sure impressed us. They made it look easy to ride a horse!! I hope Alan enjoys this post and that it brings back good memories. What a fun thing to do as a kid! Buddy could have handed out the trophies, but what he really wanted to do was ride in one of the carts. He was fascinated watching all the action, and he was not too pleased to be on a leash rather than running free among all his newfound friends!!

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