Discover Rural America

There’s something to be said for small towns where people wave for no reason, and you can find a pitcher for less than a beer in other places. You won’t get lost in town because someone will always be willing to point you in the right direction. The only traffic jams are the four-legged kind, and you’ll always know that real people live here because it’s truly rural, not touristy real. You won’t mistake us for Jackson, Wyo., or Aspen, Colo., but you will travel back to a time when interstates didn’t exist and giant resorts hadn’t invaded the interior of the U.S., back when people stopped in small towns on the great American road trip. 

This is Northwest Nebraska and there’s No Better Direction. 

Events

BANDS ON BORDEAUX

Sponsored by the Chadron Chamber of Commerce and various business partners, Bands on Bordeaux is a free summer concert series that takes place in the 100 block of Bordeaux Street in Chadron in July and August. The series is designed to be family friendly, with kids’ games, vendors, food and the opportunity to dance and listen to live music while catching up with old friends or making new ones.

The current year’s complete schedule can be found here as it becomes available. 

CHADRON FESTIVAL OF QUILTS

The Chadron Festival of Quilts takes place each April at the Chadron Assumption Arena, and the talent and creativity displayed by the quilters is second to none. The largest quilt show in Northwest Nebraska, the event brings together vendors, demonstrations and three days of quilting bliss, all revolving around a specific theme each year. Be sure to check out the stunning of examples of textile art!

The current year’s complete schedule of events can be found here as it becomes available. 

CRAWFORD 4TH OF JULY

The small town of Crawford celebrates Independence Day in a big way each year. The community goes all out, hosting two PRCA rodeos, a parade and a slew of other events, ranging from a 5K to activities for all ages at the city park. The Western Wildlife Art Show is held in conjunction with the events at nearby Fort Robinson, showcasing art that captures rural life at its best. The final PRCA rodeo concludes with a fireworks show, and residents from across the region make sure to attend.

The bulk of the activities take place on July 4, but the days surrounding Independence Day typically have fun events to attend as well. You can find the current year’s schedule here as it becomes available.

 

The Crawford Cattle Call each November showcases the importance of agriculture to the region but also provides food, vendors, photo and hay bale contests and wagon rides.

Crawford Cattle Call

Agriculture is a mainstay in the economy of Northwest Nebraska. The Crawford Cattle Call in downtown Crawford each November provides local ranchers the opportunity to display their high quality stock and gives visitors a chance to learn more about this essential economic component. Pens of cattle and other livestock are on display up and down the street, but the Crawford Cattle Call offers even more: an annual photo contest, a hay bale decorating competition, goat roping, and food and craft vendors. Organizers work to add at least one new feature to the Cattle Call each year, so the experience is fresh and exciting even for regular attendees.

 

Crawford Mud Racing

The Crawford Mud Racing Association knows how to have a good time in the dirt! Each summer, it hosts a series of mud racing events at the Crawford City Park above the rodeo grounds, typically in June, July and September. Drivers of vehicles in four classes (rancher, super stock, modified and powder puff), as well as UTV and Kids Power Wheels take on the muddy obstacle course. Kids’ games and concessions also on site.

 

The Crawford Rock Swap takes place every Labor Day weekend. Photo courtesy Crawford Rock Swap

CRAWFORD ROCK SWAP

The Northwest Nebraska Rock Club has hosted the Crawford Rock Swap for more than 30 years at the Crawford City Park over Labor Day weekend.

Daily field trips during the Crawford Rock Swap allow rockhounds to add to their collections. Photo courtesy Crawford Rock Swap

Rockhounds of all ages enjoy trading their finds with the many vendors who participate in the swap, and daily field trips allow new and experienced rockhounds to add to their collections. The event also includes an auction and the annual Fairburn Agate Collectors Gathering.

The current year’s complete schedule of events can be found here as it becomes available. 

CRAWFORD SENIOR PRO RODEO

For two days every August, “old-timers” prove they still have what it takes during the Senior Pro Rodeo in Crawford. The National Senior Pro Rodeo Association hosts roughly 60 rodeos annually across the country featuring cowboys age 40 and older.

The men and women, many of whom have been competing in rodeo arenas since their childhood days, show off their skills in bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding, tie-down roping, ribbon roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping and breakaway roping. The rodeo events are inspired by the working practices of cowboys on the open range, often still put to use in some form on today’s cattle ranches.

Dawes County Fair

Sponsored by the Dawes County Agricultural Society, the Dawes County Fair has been the place for friends and family to have fun for over 130 years. Each summer, the fair offers free events for visitors, including 4-H exhibits and judging, special events and activities for children, great food, and display of local arts and crafts.

(Photo credit Nebraska Extension Dawes County)

(Photo credit Nebraska Extension Dawes County)

 

FUR TRADE DAYS

Fur Trade Days in Chadron has been the region’s historic celebration of buckskinners, traders and Native Americans for more than 40 years. Named the state’s 2014 Nebraska Outstanding Event for communities with populations less than 10,000, Fur Trade Days honors the area’s pioneer history with a Buckskinner’s Camp east of town and Cemetery Tours at Greenwood Cemetery with a cast of characters in period dress. The Museum of the Fur Trade’s exhibits and special speakers and presentations during Fur Trade Days also recall the contributions of those early settlers. 

But you’ll also want to take part in the World Championship Buffalo Chip Throw (those who toss the dung farthest win a trophy!) and the Colter Run, which offers several lengths for athletes of various skill levels. Take a seat along Main Street to view the parade, browse the Traders Market and enjoy the entertainment on the Dawes County Courthouse lawn or head across the street for homemade ice cream. Bop over to the Chadron Public Library for additional activities and entertainment. Zip down the block with the kids to take in the carnival rides, and once the young ones are in bed dance to live music at a street dance in Downtown Chadron. 

You can find the current year’s schedule here as it becomes available. 

Harvest Fest

The annual Harvest Moon Fall Festival each October is a family-centered day of fun at the Dawes County Fairgrounds in Chadron. Sample home-brewed beer and wine or judge entries in the chili, salsa and BBQ contests for yourself while kids enjoy lacrosse, stick horse races, a haunted maze, lawn mower races, a petting zoo and more. With more than 80 vendors on site, the Harvest Moon Fall Festival is a great spot to find unique gift items, sample great food and enjoy performances by regional bands, dance and choir groups. 

Started in 2013 in Hemingford, the Harvest Moon Fall Festival organizers moved the event to Chadron in 2020 to provide more opportunities to grow the event. 

 

 

Christmas in Chadron

  • Parade of Lights – The annual Parade of Lights kicks off the Christmas season in Chadron the first Thursday in December. Grab a cup of hot chocolate on Main Street and watch the lighted floats pass by!
  • Chadron Community Christmas Tree – The Community Christmas Tree is located in the Downtown Plaza at the corner of Second and Main streets. A public lighting ceremony takes place ahead of the Parade of Lights on the first Thursday in December.
  • Chadron State College hosts its annual Holiday Concert at Memorial Hall the first Thursday in December. Enjoy professionally-delivered Christmas music to get you in the spirit of the season!
  • Parade of Trees – The annual Parade of Trees takes place at the Dawes County Courthouse on Main Street in Chadron. Businesses and organizations decorate trees of all sizes in different themes. The Parade of Trees is typically installed just ahead of Thanksgiving and remains on display through Christmas during normal courthouse hours. Visitors can also view the trees after-hours during Christmas in Chadron events on the first Thursday of December.

    The annual Parade of Trees at the Dawes County Courthouse includes a variety of themes.

Christmas in Crawford

Christmas in Crawford takes place at the Crawford Fire Hall, giving kids the chance to meet Santa and take miniature train rides. The date varies, but the event usually takes place in mid-December.

Fort Robinson Historical Christmas Dinner

Each year in December, Fort Robinson State Park hosts a Historical Christmas Dinner, recreating the Christmas menus from years when the park still served as a military post. Some attendees even dress in period costumes as well. Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. the first Monday of November and are typically sold out within the hour. The buildings at Fort Robinson State Park are also quite a sight during the holiday season thanks to the community Light Up the Fort effort. It’s definitely worth taking a drive through the park if you enjoy Christmas lights!

Pine Bough Bazaar

Get your holiday shopping done at the Pine Bough Bazaar each November.

The Pine Bough Bazaar is a one-stop holiday shopping extravaganza with a large variety of vendors offering everything from baked goods to crafts on the second Friday and Saturday of November at the Chadron Assumption Arena.

Shop Hometown Harrison

Another great one-stop holiday shopping spot is Shop Hometown Harrison, held at the VFW Hall in Harrison the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. Avoid the Black Friday rush, support local vendors and get all of your holiday shopping out of the way early!

 

Legend Buttes Rumble

Hot rods, classics and custom cars fill the Crawford City Park each September for the Legend Buttes Rumble. Even vintage campers and antique tractors are welcome, and the weekend traditionally also includes a crafters market and swap meet, a burnout contest, live music, activities, food and more! Spend a relaxing day in the shadow of the buttes, enjoying great food, music, games and beautiful vintage automobiles on display!

TRADING STORIES NATIVE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL

Each October, the Chadron Public Library and the Library Foundation sponsor the Trading Stories Native American Film Festival.

For three days, the library screens documentaries and films, hosts speakers and offers traditional Native American food to pay tribute to the often-forgotten stories of the people who called this region home before European settlement. Films such as “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” and “Tiger Eyes” and the discussions that accompany them provide opportunities to connect across cultures and serves as a reminder that we all share the same human experiences. Other films have depicted the contributions of mothers and daughters during the American Indian Movement of the 1970s and the important influence Native American musicians have had on the music to which we listen. There also are typically some activities and movies for children, so the entire family can attend and enjoy the event. 

The Chadron Public Library also features an extensive Indigenous Peoples of North America collection. Designated by a red sticker or the IPNA code, the materials include Native American music, films and books.

The current year’s complete schedule of events can be found here as it becomes available. 

Phone: 308-432-0531; Address: 507 Bordeaux St., Chadron

 

Peabody Hale Fiddle Contest

If you think today’s music leaves a bit to be desired, step back in time and enjoy old-fashioned fiddle music at the Peabody Hale Fiddle Contest each July in Crawford. The event, which provides great family entertainment, is a vocal and fiddle competition for all ages. Vocal contest categories include adults and juniors, while the fiddle competition is broken into pee wees, juniors, adults and seniors. There’s also a division for all other non-electric musical instruments, for those who aren’t accomplished on the fiddle. A quilt show and horseshoe tournament round out the old-fashioned activities, and vendors and crafters offer up unique wares.

 

The Pine Ridge Trails Race Series challenges runners and bikers to conquer the landscapes of the Pine Ridge.

PINE RIDGE TRAILS RACE SERIES

The Pine Ridge Trails Race Series sponsored by the Chadron Community Recreation will challenge your image of Nebraska as nothing but flat terrain. CCR hosts three events annually: Run for the Hills, the Panhandle Pedal Grinder and the Twisted Crawdad Trail Races.

Challenge yourself and enjoy the great views during the Pine Ridge Trails Race Series each year in Northwest Nebraska.

Run for the Hills began in 2017 as a five-mile race in Strong Canyon in the Nebraska National Forest but was later moved to Chadron State Park in conjunction with the park’s anniversary celebration and features multiple races, including a fun run/wlk, 5K and 10K runs.

The Panhandle Pedal Grinder takes bike enthusiasts through the Pine Ridge on 40 and 100-mile gravel road courses.

The Twisted Crawdad Trail Races include both mountain bike races and trail runs in The Cliffs Recreational area of the Nebraska National Forest. The races offer long and short distances through the rugged Pine Ridge.

 

 

Ride the Ridge takes place each June at Fort Robinson State Park. Photo courtesy Ride the Ridge

 

RIDE THE RIDGE

There’s no better way to enjoy the iconic scenery of Northwest Nebraska’s Pine Ridge than on horseback. For more than two decades, the annual Ride the Ridge event each June provides visitors a chance to do exactly that. The trail ride, which takes place at Fort Robinson State Park, takes horse enthusiasts into the outlying areas of the state park, where fantastic views await. Camaraderie with fellow horsemen and women abounds, and riders can take some truly spectacular photos or simply immerse themselves in the moment and commit the views to memory.

The Ride the Ridge trail ride offers horse enthusiasts a great way to experience Northwest Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Ride the Ridge

Riders can choose between two trail rides – morning or afternoon – or take both; they’re each five to six miles long. The event also offers the chance to take part in a Trail Challenge and Competition for $5 in the afternoon if riders opt to skip the second trail ride. The event is rain or shine, and riders must have their own horse. Except for the entrance fee for the Trail Challenge, Ride the Ridge is free, though riders must purchase a state park permit.

 

SIOUX COUNTY FAIR

Sponsored by the Sioux County Agricultural Society, the Sioux County Fair has been the place for friends and family to have fun for over 125 years. Each summer, the fair offers 4-H exhibits and livestock shows, an art show and a 5K race. Entertainment includes rodeos, a demolition derby and the ever-popular hog wrestling for brave souls willing to jump in a mud pit and attempt the feat. There are also plenty of opportunities to eat at a free barbecue and pancake feed, and you can satisfy your sweet tooth at the pie and ice cream social. You can find the current year’s schedule here as it becomes available.

Wacipis are a traditional part of Native American culture.

Mari Sandoz Wacipi

Every November, the Chadron State College Native American Club and the college’s Diversity Committee host the Mari Sandoz Wacipi, complete with multiple drum groups, inter-tribal dancing, various dance competitions and storytellers. Wacipis are a traditional part of Native American culture, which played an important role in Northwest Nebraska’s development. The annual Wacipi at CSC pays tribute to the heritage of the region’s original population. 

 

A dancer performs traditional steps at the Mari Sandoz Wacipi , setting the decorations on her dress flying.

WHITE RIVER WACIPI

An Inter-tribal gathering with dance exhibition and contests, the White River Wacipi showcases traditional Native American culture through the pow-wow experience featuring drum music, dance and song. The White River Wacipi Committee aims to educate the public about Native American dancing, storytelling and other activities annually during the last weekend in June. The event takes place at the Arbor in the City of Crawford’s park complex; camping is available and encouraged.

Each year’s event includes traditional Native American dancing, exhibits, demonstrations, arts, crafts, games, storytellers, vendors and more. The Wacipi is open to the public at no cost.

The current year’s complete schedule of events can be found here as it becomes available.

Whitney Lake Ice Fishing Tournament

Whitney Lake at Whitney, Nebraska, is owned by the Whitney Irrigation District but is accessible to the public through a boat ramp and dock situated on ground leased by the Nebraska Game and Parks. Every January the Whitney Dock Club hosts its annual Whitney Lake Ice Fishing Tournament. It’s a great way to enjoy winter in Northwest Nebraska if you love competitive fishing and includes a lucrative raffle with about $20,000 in prizes. Only 1,000 tickets are available to the general public each year, which give the ticketholder entry into the tournament and raffle, as well as a chili supper at the conclusion of the event. The tournament features three categories: walleye, crappie and other and each contestant is allowed one entry in each category. Entries are judged by length. Proceeds of the tournament benefit continued improvements at Whitney Lake.