A full line-up of musical artists will take the stage at the Freeman Prairie Arboretum on Saturday, July 29, as part of the South Dakota Chislic Festival. At the center of the day-long celebration, of course, will be chislic, a cubed meat traditionally made from mutton or lamb. Festival-goers, however, will find so much more.
Three dozen food and non-food vendors, a beer tent and an assortment of other activities for all ages will be on tap from 10 AM until 9 PM. New to the festival this year is Hissy Fits Mobile Smash Room, providing a great way to let off some steam. And once again, kids can bounce off their energy in the Kid Zone hosted by Miss South Dakota title holders. A disc golf course is located in the southwest corner of the festival grounds; beanbag tournaments and bingo will be part of the fun, as well. For those curious about the history of chislic, presentations by Heritage Hall Museum and Archives will take place at four different times throughout the day.
The Dawson, Brooks, Sayler Band at 10:30 AM will be the first of five groups performing at the free festival. They’ll be followed by The Men in Black, a Johnny Cash Tribute Band at 12:30 PM and the Wild Card Band at 3 PM. The Rock Hardys will perform from 5:30 until close.
To fully enjoy everything taking place on stage, don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of the amphitheater seating available directly across from the stage and separated by a tranquil body of water. Or, if you prefer, bring a lawn chair.
Leading up to the festival will be a pork barbecue hosted by the Freeman Lions Club on Friday, July 28. Serving will run from 5-8 PM at the Freeman Community Center at 224 S. Wipf Street.
On the morning of the festival, Freeman Regional Health Services will host a 10K Mutton Run/Walk at 10 AM, with other races to follow. Originating from the FRHS Assisted Living facility (formerly known as Salem Mennonite Home) at 106 W. Seventh Street, participants may register at 7:30 AM on the day of the event; advanced registration at FreemanRegional.com is encouraged.
Minus a break in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2023 festival will be the fifth in a series of popular, annual festivals. After more than 8,000 guests overwhelmed the original venue space in its inaugural year, volunteer organizers recalibrated and relocated the event to the expansive, 40-acre arboretum.
The new setting has been able to effectively accommodate the crowds descending on the small southeastern South Dakota community of Freeman, population 1,300. In response to diligent efforts to continually improve the visitor experience, the SD Chislic Festival earned the SD Department of Tourism’s prestigious award for Excellence in Tourism Innovation earlier this year.
Freeman – the home of the festival – is centrally located between Sioux Falls, Mitchell, and Yankton and just a half-hour drive from both Interstate 90 and I-29. Festival admission is free.
Visit SDChislicFestival.com for the complete schedule, as well as a list of vendors and sponsors.