I’ve been to Deadwood, SD more times than I can count. I grew up in Wyoming just over an hour from there. Some of you have probably never even heard of Deadwood, so before I get into my trip recap, let me give a little background on Deadwood! It has quite the storied past, so if you’re feeling so inclined, you can read up even more on your own here.
Located in the western part of South Dakota in the Black Hills, this quaint little town actually got its start illegally! The settlement illegally began in the 1870s on land that had been granted to American Indians (probably not too shocking, given the history of the US). Shortly thereafter, the black hills gold rush brought a slew (like 5,000 back then) of people to the area. Deadwood quickly became known for its lawlessness – gambling, prostitution, murders…Wild Bill Hickock was actually murdered there. Both Hickock and Calamity Jane are buried in the town’s cemetery. The town managed to survive gold rush and busts, multiple fires, smallpox, war, and in 1961, the entire town was designated a national historic landmark.
Fast forward to now, and Deadwood is still a small, but bustling gambling town. This past weekend, my friends and I were visiting to participate in Deadwood’s annual Oktoberfest. I’ve been to many an Oktoberfest weekends throughout the years, but Deadwood’s Oktoberfest is one of my favorites! We arrived in Deadwood around 11:00, and checked in to our hotel, the Mineral Palace. I will be honest here: MP is not my favorite hotel in Deadwood. It’s a bit on the older side, and still has smoking rooms, which is unfortunately what we got placed in. But Oktoberfest is a super busy time for the town, so options are pretty limited, and book up quickly. Luckily one of our rooms was available when we arrived, so we were able to drop our bags, freshen up, and hit the town to begin the festivities.
They hold a variety of events over the whole weekend, but all my favorites are held on Saturday. What might that include? Well, for starters, I should make a confession: I’m obsessed with dogs. Like really obsessed. And the first two events of the day are wiener dog races, and a wiener dog costume contest! I was lucky enough to meet the eventual winner of the costume contest…an older wiener dog, named Haley, who normally walks with the assistance of a doggy wheelchair. Haley’s costume for the contest was an old school covered wagon, and look how adorable she is:
After the dogs got to have their fun, it was time for my friends and I to have ours. Also on the docket of activities during Deadwood’s Oktoberfest are what they call the Beer Barrel Games, and my crew and I were entering into the events under the team name “We’d Tap That.” This year’s games included:
- One team member rolls a keg down the street weaving in between the cones, nails five nails into a stump, and a 2nd team member rolls the keg back up again
- One team member walks down the street weaving through the cones while carrying a tray with five pints on it, transfers the tray to a 2nd team member, who then walks back up again
- One team member holds two full beer steins straight out for as long as possible
- Two team members have 30 seconds to stack mini cups as high as possible
There were 24 teams who entered the games in total. I have no idea where my team placed, but we definitely didn’t win. We sure had fun though! And drank all the included keg beer we possibly could.
After the games had concluded, we had the rest of the evening to enjoy our time in Deadwood. Since we had drank our lunch, we first grabbed delicious burgers at Mustang Sally’s for some sustenance. Next, some of us tried our luck doing a little gambling. I was one of them, and I lost all I was willing to lose in like 30 minutes. Accepting my defeat, we then head off to the highlight of the evening: karaoke at the Oyster Bar. We try to hit up karaoke pretty much every time we are in Deadwood, but this time was definitely the most fun I’ve had there! I think it was the crowd; everyone was happy-go-lucky, singing along, and cheering for those singing. It was great! I participated in a number of duets with my bff Amanda, including “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boys II Men, and “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. Then K-Swizzle made an appearance (no joke, I made the DJ announce me as such) for her rendition of “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot.
After we had had our fill of karaoke, it was time for some dancing. One of the things I love about Deadwood vs. other small gambling towns I’ve visited, is that there are actually things to do BESIDES gambling. You aren’t only limited to the casinos, as there are bars with live music and dancing. Bodega is one of my favorites, and that’s where we spent the remainder of our evening.
What I definitely did not enjoy about the weekend was the 6-hour drive home (I live in Denver, CO) the morning after. The drive is quite beautiful, and the trees are in peak colors right now in the Black Hills, so I had hoped to get some scenery pictures for you all, but mother nature decided to rain on my day (literally) instead.
That’s all for now. Happy traveling 🙂