Buffalo Days will feature the traditional events it’s been known for - a parade, car show and food, for example - but social distancing and social responsibility are being encouraged this year, said Emily Bivens, executive director, Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce.
“When talking to all of the different organizations about the event and talking to our public officials and emergency management team - it kind of falls back on our community,” she said. “You have a responsibility to take care of yourself as well. And so, obviously, we’re going to ask people to respect others’ space and stay 6 feet apart but we can’t control that.”
She said it’s up to the community to “just be smart like the governor’s been saying with his Smart Restart (guidelines) … We’re asking if you don’t feel well, stay home, and if you aren’t comfortable with it it’s OK, you don’t have to come.”
Buffalo Days are July 24-26 in Jamestown. Bivens said a number of agencies were part of the decision to hold the event.
“With all the COVID-19 stuff happening we want the community to be safe,” Bivens said. “And so there were quite a few conversations with Central Valley Health (District), the city of Jamestown, Police Department, and it was really a collective consensus … that we could still hold the event but it would just look a little different - portions of it, anyway.”
Fort Seward, Jamestown Tourism, the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse and Classic Car Club are among those groups holding events or sponsoring them during Buffalo Days.
“The cool thing about Buffalo Days is that it’s really a community event,” Bivens said. “It’s not one organization putting this on.“
Some events that typically occurred during Buffalo Days won’t this year. They include the pancake breakfast at the Jamestown Fire Department, the Two Rivers Activity Center 5K and a street dance. There will be food vendors in the park but not many to allow for social distancing, Bivens said. The Classic Car Club will hold a car show but people won’t be voting on the vehicles. Despite those changes, Bivens said she thinks there are plenty of things to see and do.
“I think we filled in the schedule quite nice,” she said.
The chamber is sponsoring the parade and the parade route was extended to allow for more social distancing. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. at McElroy Park, go north on 2nd Avenue Southeast to 8th Street Southeast, turn west on 8th Street Southeast to First Avenue then turn north onto First Avenue. The parade will proceed north on First Avenue to First Street East. The parade will not cross over the railroad tracks. The parade participants will then head east on First Street East and turn south on 3rd Avenue Southeast. The parade will continue south on 3rd Avenue Southeast back to McElroy Park.
“The parade, I think, is always a big thing,” Bivens said. Whether candy is handed out by any of the parade entrants is the entrant’s choice, she said.
“Again, that’s something that’s hard to police,” she said. “That’s the public’s choice, if they don’t want to pick up the candy then they don’t have to.”
Fort Seward events
Fort Seward will be the site of a number of activities during Buffalo Days. Jen Marks, Fort Seward director, said children’s games and living history demonstrations such as over-the-fire pie and bread baking, butter making and soap making are planned. There will also be a look at women’s fashion during the 1870s and the replica of an 1861 Howitzer cannon and a Gatling gun will be fired. Dale Marks will have his Springfield firearm collection at the site and talk about its history, Jen Marks said.
“... it’s a pretty unique collection,” she said.
The events are free although children of Fort Seward board members will be selling lemonade and cookies and there is a silent auction to raise money for the site, Marks said. Donations will also be accepted.
Marks said people who haven’t been to Fort Seward recently will find it is very different from the last time they visited the site that was a fort from 1872-77.
“We’re a very small historic site but we’re very passionate about the history and not just of the history of the soldiers but we’ve really expanded our programming to be about just general life in the 1870s,” she said. “So there’s seriously something up here for everybody now. The exhibit tents have hands-on learning for everybody. … You can wash the laundry. In our hospital tent, you can sit on the surgeon’s table. The children’s school tent has all sorts of games and clothes that you can try on. We just really try to make it a hands-on experience that everybody can enjoy, all ages.”
Outdoor movie night, art hunt, concert
Jamestown Tourism is offering a free outdoor movie Friday night at the Frontier Village Amphitheater.
Allison Limke, visitor experience manager for Jamestown Tourism, said moviegoers can expect to see a film based on one of the late Louis L’Amour’s Western novels. L’Amour was a native of Jamestown who lived here until the age of 15.
Limke said social distancing and masks are encouraged. People should bring their own snacks and beverages if desired since there won’t be any concessions at the event, along with bug spray and blankets. Parking is on the north side of the Frontier Village (use minimum maintenance road). The movie begins at 8 p.m.
“It should be a fun night,” she said.
Other activities include the annual Mini-Art Hunt, sponsored by The Arts Center, that features 10 small pieces of art inspired by pollinators that were created by Linda Roesch, the center’s artist in residence. Clues on where to find the 1 ½-by-1 ½-inch art, which can be kept by the finder, will be released on The Arts Center’s Facebook page on Saturday at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. and at The Arts Center’s booth in McElroy Park. The art will be in plain sight at parks and historic sites.
Over at the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse, people are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or a blanket for its free outdoor concert since seating won't be available. The free outdoor concert is at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the courthouse, located at 504 3rd Ave. SE. Montana poet D.W. Groethe will perform original songs of a cowboy's life and local musicians and poets Terry and Linda Schwartz will showcase their original works. Those attending are asked to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations on social distancing and personal hygiene. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be canceled.
Bivens said Buffalo Days helps fill a need.
“I think it’s important for us to still be together as a community, just safely, ...” she said. “I think people are looking for things to do and I think there’s enough on this schedule that people can spread out. We don’t all have to be at the same event. There’s things going on at the same time. People could be up at Fort Seward, some people could be down at the park, some people could be up at the Village - we can spread apart but we can still have this community celebration. And I think the community needs it at this time.”
If you go: Buffalo Days
Friday, July 24
8 p.m.: Movie Night at Frontier Village Amphitheater
Saturday, July 25
8 a.m.: Line up for Buffalo Days Parade at McElroy Park
9 a.m.: Buffalo Days Parade
10 a.m.: Mini-Art Hunt begins
10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Civics Exhibit at 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse
11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Living history demonstrations at Fort Seward
11 a.m.-4 p..m: Buffalo Rally Car Show & Shine, McElroy Park
11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Food vendors, McElroy Park
1-3 p.m.: Old Friends Band, McElroy Park
1 p.m.: Linda and Terry Schwartz and D.W. Groethe at 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse
1 p.m.: Evolution of Springfield presentation, Fort Seward
1 p.m.: Children’s games, Fort Seward
2 p.m.: Fashion of the 1870s, Fort Seward
3 p.m.: Howitzer cannon demonstration, Fort Seward
Sunday, July 26
9 a.m.: United Presbyterian Church at Fort Seward
10 a.m.: Cowboy Church at Fort Seward
11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Living History demonstrations, Fort Seward
Noon: Children’s games, Fort Seward
1 p.m.: James Valley Off Roaders mud drags, Stutsman County Fairgrounds
1 p.m.: Evolution of Springfield presentation, Fort Seward
1-3 p.m.: Silent auction begins at Fort Seward
3 p.m.: Gatling gun and Howitzer cannon demonstration, Fort Seward
3 p.m.: Pie auction, Fort Seward