A weekend on the trails of South Dakota’s Black Hills is transformed this summer into something organizers hope encourages more explorers to venture into the outdoors.
“We are targeting everyone – from the die-hard, outdoor recreation enthusiast to the couch potato that’s maybe wanting to get outside,” said Kristy Lintz. “We’re hoping to open up the doors for individuals that may have some interest or that may be new to the area.”
Lintz, director of the Black Hills Mountain Festival and recreation program specialist for Rapid City Parks and Recreation, has helped spearhead the transformation of the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival into something more. For the first time, the weekend event, which takes place June 15-17, will include outdoor education, concerts, a beer garden, and a variety of activities. Lintz says the goal is to help people pursue a range of outdoor interests – beyond the weekend’s festival.
“If you’re interested in something, or may not know much about an outdoor recreational opportunity that we have to offer, it would be a great opportunity to come down and learn.”
Experts and vendors from the area have all pitched in to share their know-how and their products. Instructors will be offering clinics on everything from fly fishing to backpacking. Others are working to introduce women to rock climbing, or provide tips for trail running. Lintz says all of these activities are possible for participants to learn more about, thanks to the special qualities of the Black Hills area.
“We have such amazing resources within our state parks and in South Dakota, and all of these activities can be done throughout the area,” said Lintz. “So we just want to have one weekend where we can have those resources so people can come and learn and enjoy the camaraderie of it all.”
They also want to bring a summer festival vibe to Rapid City’s Founder’s Park. Live concerts are scheduled throughout the weeken, and a local brewery is helping run a beer garden for those whose favorite outdoor activity may involve a drink on a patio.
“We have such amazing resources within our state parks and in South Dakota, and all of these activities can be done throughout the area.”
However, mountain biking and trail runs remain at the center of the weekend. The Fat 5k and 10k runs take place Saturday on the hills of Hanson Larsen Memorial Park, in a partnership with the Black Hills Running Club. Plus, new this year – a 12-hour overnight bike ride. The ride runs from 8 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday, and consists of about an 8-mile loop and a gain of 1,800 feet in elevation. Organizers say the course has been designed with night riding in mind, and also offers a place for cyclists to make camp and rest if need-be. Lintz says this is the only race of its kind in South Dakota, and that it’s a way to offer something different for a lot of the endurance riders in the area.
Activities are also in the works to encourage the next generation of trailblazers, including a XCountry bike race for kids ages 9 to 14. Organizers placed those events on Sunday, Lintz says, to encourage family participation on Father’s Day June 17. Most people involved are from the Rapid City area, but some families have come from as far as Texas in past years. Welcoming participants of all experience levels is part of the fun.
“It’s that active family dynamic that we’re really focusing on, but we’re trying to keep in mind that we want to get families active as well,” said Lintz. “So if they’re new to the outdoor recreation world, we want to be able to give them a welcome mat.”
Registration options for all these events are available for solo competitors, duos, quads, or corporate teams – which also determines the registration cost. Proceeds from the weekend are funneled back into outdoor activities and help support the Black Hills Mountain Bike Association.
For more information, visit bhmountainfest.com.
NIGHT RIDE NECESSITIES
- A primary light source to view the trail ahead.
- A secondary light source – think flashlight or penlight.
- Back-up batteries.
- ANSI-approved helmet, to be worn at all times on the course.
- Riders can set up tents, chairs, tables etc. in the course’s pit area.
Register at bhmountainfest.com.
BLACK HILLS TRAIL SERIES
Fat 5K and 10K
Saturday, June 16
12 HOUR NIGHT RIDE
Saturday, June 16
YOUTH XC BIKE RACE
Sunday, June 17