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!
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.
In the traditional of all great sporting events, before the Soap Box Derby began we all 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.
And then they were off down the ramp and onto the road.
The kids were pretty competitive and kept a close eye on each other as they urged their buggies to fly down the hill.
Even if they didn’t win, they were having a blast with these little soap box cars.
When they got to the bottom of the hill they got a tow back up from friendly helpers in golf carts.
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.
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!).
At the bottom of the hill members of the high school football team caught the riders as they crossed the finish line.
Up at the top of the hill the Gospel Tabernacle gave out free snow cones. The blue raspberry ones were yummy!
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!
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!
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!!
What a fun and heartwarming Labor Day celebration this was.
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Location of Buffalo South Dakota (Google Maps). The Buffalo Trailer Park is at Rte 85 & Three Toes Street.
All of our Travel Posts from South Dakota: South Dakota by RV!
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