Celebrating independence with 50th Roughrider Days

Though the 50th Roughrider Days have come and gone, we recap some of the highlights from the 12-day extravaganza from the demolition derby to the large turnout for the Gary Allan concert.

Beckett Wolf shows off his chicken "Buck Buck" for the 4-H Livestock Premium Sale Thursday, July 1, 2021, at the Stark County Fairgrounds. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

Though there was no partridge in a pear tree or two turtle doves, the 50th Roughrider Days felt like the summer version of the 12 days of Christmas. From a PRCA Rodeo and carnival to a well attended parade and more, the hits kept coming with each day. Dickinson even featured a visit from well-known country music singer Gary Allan.

Returning after a year of postponement for the 2020 Roughrider Days, the event featured a variety lineup of events hosted by the Roughrider Commission, as well as other community hosted events. The Roughrider Days carnival kicked the festivities off on June 23, followed by a weekend of performances of the PRCA Rodeo at the Stark County Fairgrounds from June 25-27. More than 2,100 people tuned in at the fairgrounds to see Gary Allan, along with special guest Ned LeDoux and opener Chancey Williams. That marked one of the larger crowds for the Roughrider Days concerts, said Jessica Danhof, a marketing agent for the Roughrider Days.

On Saturday, July 3, Dickinson families, friends, alike huddled in red, white, blue fashion on each side of Villard Avenue to catch candy from more than 110 floats on the parade.


Though the grand finale of the fireworks was canceled due to the severe drought, the Roughrider Days concluded with a heated demolition derby.

“I think that the 50th went off quite well. There was a few hiccups. Obviously when you're doing a huge event, you always do have some hiccups. But considering we just came off of a year of COVID, people were excited to get out and excited to celebrate their independence and their freedom, and without masks — that was a huge thing,” Danhof noted.

In honor of Independence Day, two young children sport all red, white and blue on Saturday, July 3, 2021, just before the 50th Roughrider Days Fair and Expo Parade in Dickinson. ((Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

An aerial view of Villard Avenue on Saturday, July 3, 2021, in Dickinson shows the parade in honor of the Fourth of July. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Schmitt)

Leading up to the event, Danhof, who is in charge of initiating the marketing for the Roughrider Days, tries to reach audiences from all across North Dakota into South Dakota, even as far as Montana with social media engagements, radio and print advertising. When visitors come to Dickinson, it allows for the city’s revenue to grow with restaurants, lodging, etc. This in turn helps pay for Dickinson’s livelihood, Danhoff said, adding that it allows the city to build on its infrastructure such as street maintenance.

“It's been a whirlwind because like I just had a newborn, so I was a little bit iffy about how the marketing side would go,” she noted. “But we love being able to put off a good show and good family events. I know that some of it, like the derby, can get kind of expensive with $18 (per ticket). But (the) Roughrider Commission is a nonprofit organization, so we try to keep prices as low as possible so that families can come and enjoy themselves and that it just basically covers costs.”


Cade Bohlman's spring heifer fashions in nothing but patriotic colors before stepping foot into the arena for the 4-H Livestock Premium Sale Thursday, July 1, 2021, at the Stark County Fairgrounds. The sale was one of the community events hosted through the 50th Roughrider Days. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

Dawsyn Malkowski's Black Angus sports a chill look before being auctioned off during the 4-H Livestock Premium Sale Thursday, July 1, 2021, at the Stark County Fairgrounds. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

Having a 12-day long celebration allows for families to connect and it brings people together. The Roughrider Commission is thrilled when the stands are always packed for the rodeo, the concert and the demolition derby as well as seeing people line up the street for the parade, Danhof added.

Cars slam into one another during the demolition derby Sunday, July 4, 2021, at the Stark County Fairgrounds in Dickinson. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Schmitt)

“... People are able to come out and celebrate as a community, which is always our number one focus is just bringing the community together. I think a lot of towns that don't celebrate as a community, they start to lose that family (and) that togetherness. Because a lot of people are always on their phones and not celebrating together. We love when our events pull off and it's a successful year,” she said.


For the 51st Roughrider Days, Danhof encourages people to provide feedback to the Roughrider Commission through email at or sending a message via the Roughrider Days Facebook page.

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
What To Read Next
Dickinson students dive into School-Wide Day of Learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education fun.
Join in the celebration of community and tradition with a weekend full of games, raffles, auctions, live entertainment, and a chance to win a 2023 ford escape
New curriculum aims to better prepare students for monetary decisions as adults, courtesy of $250,000 donation.
Annual event raises funds for housing and support for families of seriously ill pediatric patients and high-risk mothers, collecting more than $1.2 million since launch