Get ready for fall

By Gray Hughes

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The shoulder season — the time of the year right before or after the busy summer tourist season — is officially here in Hill City.

Janet Wetovick-Bily, the executive director of the Hill City Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber loves having events all year round as they each go to promote Hill City.

“Our visitors call ahead to let us know when they are coming to Hill City, immediately followed by ‘what is going on when we will be there?’” Wetovick-Bily said. “We are always excited to encourage people to come for various events, and, if they stop at the Visitor Information Center, we encourage them to extend their stay so they can participate. With fall being a beautiful and colorful season that evokes special memories, Hill City has a number of happenings that welcome visitors and area local residents alike.”

One way chamber members, Main Street merchants, various organizations and area businesses work together to extend the shoulder season is by creatively fostering growth of Hill City events, she added, which is done by extending the days of an event or by adding a new activity to an event.

“Several great examples of this include the Quilt Show, Plein Air Paint-out, Girlfriends’ Weekend and Olde Tyme Christmas,” Wetovick-Bily said. “Another way the shoulder season is extended is through businesses which remain open longer in the season as well or that extend their operating hours as they participate in an event. This attracts and assures visitors who want to visit that there will be plenty to do and enjoy when they come to Hill City.”

Every year — and every week — is different, she added. Weather can impact visitation and affects businesses in different ways.

For recording purposes at the Visitor Information Center, Wetovick-Bily said although there is a decrease in foot traffic there October through December, there are many visitors in the Hills who come for various seasonal sports and activities or just for a change of venue.

“Fall is just yet another great season when area local residents get out to enjoy and support Hill City and our events because there is so much to do,” she said. “We draw from the entire Black Hills and surrounding area — from Rapid City; from our neighboring communities of Keystone and Custer; from Gillette, Wyo., Spearfish and Hot Springs; from Alliance (Neb.) and Sioux Falls, to name a few. Hill City has a great reputation of which we can be immensely proud.”

Many events are going to be occurring in Hill City.

Below is a list of some of them:

Night Blast at Crazy Horse, Sept. 6

Quilt Show, Sept. 7-8

Trolley on the Trail, Sept. 11

Wine Express, 1880 Train, Sept. 14

Plein Air Paint-Out, Sept. 25-28

Autumn Volksmarch, Crazy Horse Memorial, Sept. 29

Run Crazy Horse Full and Half Marathon, Oct. 6

Hill City Main Street Trick-or-Treat and Boys and Girls Club annual Halloween Carnival, Oct. 25

Girlfriends Weekend Nov. 1-3

Hill City Olde Tyme Christmas Parade, Nov. 29

Holiday Express and Holiday Express Spiked on the 1880 Train, Nov. 29-30

Trees and Trains Exhibit at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum, Nov. 20-30

“At the chamber we are very optimistic as we approach the fall season,” Wetovick-Bily said. “Every business and attraction or partner that I visit with has said: ‘All of us are hoping for a good strong finish to the peak season going into the shoulder season,’ and we are hoping for good weather that continues to drive traffic to our area and to our events.  We have a lot of great months ahead and are really excited as we look forward to celebrate fall,  upcoming holidays and our events.”

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