Custer County closes out big fall weekend with Black Hills tradition

CRAZY HORSE, S.D. – Custer County closed out a huge weekend for the area with the annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch for the fall Sunday morning. People from across South Dakota and from coast to coast converged onto the area for the chance to hike up to the top of the memorial.

Twice a year, people line up bright and early to make the trek while learning about the progress of the mountain and seeing it up close. And whether it is their first time or not, everyone always has a great time.

“I have been coming out to the round up for several years, and we always knew the Volksmarch was the same weekend and just had never tried it” Linda from New York said. She was at the Volksmarch a larger group of people all from New York. “And so this weekend we are trying it.”

Admission for the hike is discounted for the day to $10 for participants, and an additional $3 fee to walk. The hike is separated into four stops along the trail, where volunteers mark off cards with a letter to confirm participants have made the stop.

Beginning at the second checkpoint, vendors are set up for any hungry or thirsty hikers. The sales from the food and drinks on the trail often are fundraising opportunities, like for Red Owl — South Dakota’s Community Hall.

The original building is close to 100 years old, but was rebuilt in 2015. The money from the fundraiser helps with maintaining the building and keeping it in the community for parties and other local gatherings.

Img 4282“It is very important because we have to have a facility in order to have a party like that,” Vivian Miller from Red Owl explained. “And then we do not have to drive 70 miles to Sturgis or Union Center to do our own thing at Red Owl. And it is a lot of events in our main community.”

By the time of the last stop, the details of the mountain are already coming into focus and only get more intricate. And if you were wondering, the letters on the card this year spelled out “Ruth,” in honor of former CEO of Crazy Horse Memorial, Ruth Ziolkowski. She was the wife of designer Korczak Ziolkowski and worked to keep his mission alive after his death in 1982. Their children are also involved with the construction of the mountain.

For many who have done the hike before, the event never disappoints and the physical reward is well worth the trip.

“The view. Looking at it and to say we did it,” South Dakota native Sandy Fischer said.

“Yes. The view and the finish picture,” her sister Jennifer added.

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