Every state has its own bird, flower, flag, and so on. In February 2018, South Dakota passed Senate Bill 96 to make it the first state ever to have its own official nosh– chislic.

Chislic has been a mainstay at cafés, bars, fairs, and celebrations in South Dakota for decades.

On July 28, the first-ever South Dakota Chislic Festival will be held in Freeman, which is at the very heart of the Chislic Circle. Which is why they pride themselves as “The Home of Chislic.”

Traditional chislic is deep-fat, fried lamb. However, many people also enjoy it grilled and may use a variety of marinades when taking that route. People will often flavor it with garlic salt and eat it with saltines. And some might even say it’s better when it’s washed down with an ice cold beer.

Recent years have seen the introduction of chislic in various marinades and with various sauces. Local chislic is often beef, and some people have experimented with goat, deer, and buffalo.

Joshua Hofer is the festival founder and also the community development and marketing coordinator for the city of Freeman.

Hofer says he has been considering the idea for while, and the recent adoption of chislic as the official state nosh really confirmed that it was time to launch the festival.

Here are five things for festival-goers to know:

  1. Chislic is considered a “heritage food” of southeast South Dakota. It came to the area via Germans who had lived in Russia prior to migrating to the United States in the late 1800s. Beyond that, no one has ever been able to trace its origins to a specific person or family.
  2. The festival will feature three competitions – two are judged, but the third is a “people’s choice” competition. Plan to bring small bills to the festival to purchase tickets and a ballot to vote in the competition. The two other categories are “Classic Sheep,” which is strictly mutton or lamb, and “New Age Nosh,” which will include beef, goat, deer, and buffalo as options.
  3. Festival-goers don’t have to worry about rain. There will be a large tent on-site so that everyone can have a great time eating chislic (and a variety of other foods), rain or shine.
  4. The festival will offer all sorts of activities for kids. This includes several bouncy castles, a sandcastle-building contest, and access to the swimming pool. Purchase of a $5 wristband will allow kids to enjoy all of these activities. Horseback rides will also be available for a separate charge, with proceeds going to charity.
  5. The fun isn’t just limited to kids’ activities– adults can compete in a bean bag tournament or sand volleyball tournament, and enjoy live music throughout the festival. A Sioux Falls rock-cover band, Annabelle Band, will also be performing.

For more information, head to sdchislicfestival.com.

Chislic Terms

Nosh: a snack or small item of food
Chislic Circle: the 30-mile radius around Freeman, SD

What: South Dakota Chislic Festival
When: July 28 | 4-10 p.m.
Where: 300 N. Wipf St. Freeman, SD

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