The days this time of year are noticeable short and many of us northern plains residents crave a little extra light.
A good place to find a “light” break from the darkness (no pun intended) is the annual Belle Fourche Festival of Lights. Traditionally this event takes place the day after Thanksgiving Day.
The population of visitors in Belle Fourche typically swells over the Thanksgiving holiday with those who come home to celebrate the holiday. Also, many people who live in the neighboring communities and counties tend to find reasons to gather in town during the Thanksgiving weekend. It’s time to stock up on supplies, engage in some friendly banter with people you haven’t seen for a while, or even with people you’ve never met.
All along Highway 85 businesses are lit up. A variety of goods and services can be found on this stretch of roadway through town. There are also many businesses on State Street that serve as viable pedestrian destinations. And, of course, there are lights.
During the Thanksgiving holiday people in Belle Fourche seem happy.
Judy Kling, a shopper at Runnings commented, “We come here for farm and ranch items and they also have a helpful staff and a nice line of women’s clothing. The dark Canyon coffee is another reason we shop here.”
On State Street, people milled along the well-lit street coming and going from the variety of stores throughout the day on Friday. Sue Sanders and Shawna Browning owners of Saturday on State Street were very pleased with the traffic through the store.
As the daylight faded quickly in the late afternoon, more activity began to appear. Draft horses drawing wagons lit up with festive red lights made pleasant clip-clop sounds as they provided passengers with an old-fashioned horse drawn tour through downtown.
The Tri-State Museum and Visitor’s Center was another bright beacon spot. Here, visitors were welcomed to a holiday open house with free cookies, popcorn and cider. Given the chilly weather conditions the Chili Feed (again, no pun intended) at the Belle Fourche Community Hall was a good place to take a break from the outside temperatures.
Community events like the Belle Fourche Festival of Lights do not happen by without much planning and effort.
Belle Fourche Silver Lining organizes the Chili Feed. This year, the Cowboy band entertained the diners while Santa and Mrs. Claus were available for photos.
The Center of the Nation Business Association (CoNBA) organized the horse drawn wagon rides and also donated food to the Compassion Cupboard. CoNBA is also responsible for the fireworks display and for lighting up the large Spruce tree behind the Old City Hall building.
The Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce is in charge of the parade. This year twenty floats, all local businesses participated. Santa and Mrs. Claus were also present in the parade.
Truly, the Festival of Lights is an example of a community that cares.