Chinook Days set for weeklong celebration kick off

This 4th annual commemoration is expected to have an even bigger turnout
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 6:42 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The 4th annual Chinook Days “Jam-uary” festival kick off is this weekend in Spearfish and the weather couldn’t be better. With it expected to hit almost 60 degrees, Chinook Days weeklong celebration should draw huge crowds. Starting Friday, January 13th with a special performance at the Matthew Opera House followed with a list of outdoor food events on Saturday, January 14th and a beer-fest next week along with bike races and fun outdoor activities, Chinook Days will be exciting for everyone to enjoy. The event goes from Friday, January 13th until Saturday, January 21st.

Founder John Williams and Kyler Flock came in the studio to discuss the kick off celebration. Williams gave us a brief explanation about the history of this event, “Chinook Days started in 2020 as a celebration and commemoration of the world record that Spearfish holds. That world record is the fastest temperature rise ever recorded on planet Earth. On January 22, 1943, Spearfish recorded a 49 degree temperature rise in only 2 minutes as Chinook wind descended upon Spearfish and took the temperature from -4 to 45,” says Williams.

“It has been a memorable event that has lived on for 80 years in Spearfish lore,” says Williams, “and our group decided that a week of events celebrating Spearfish was necessary. Chinook is also the name of a type of hop using in brewing beer, so we combined the history with the beer culture of Spearfish, adding in the arts and winter sports and boom you get Chinook Days”.

Williams and Flock says they are very excited about all the events and are looking forward to having a lot of fun. Flock says, “the week of festivities will kick off on Friday, January 13th with a concert at the Matthews Opera House followed by the winter carnival at Big Hill on Saturday, January 14th. On Sunday, the 15th there will be the winter luau at Killian’s Food and Drink, then skipping ahead to Wednesday, January 18th, there will be the Chinook pub crawl all throughout Spearfish, leading into Friday with the downtown snow sculpture event, and finally ending with the big bonfire and “Chinook Fest” on Saturday, January 21st. There will also be the Chinook pond hockey tournament going down that weekend at Iron Creek Lake.

Although it’s a weeklong festival here are some events to watch out for says Williams, “tonight we have music at the Matthews Opera House as a part of spread the tunes, Jam-uary music series. the Sweet Lillies will be performing at 7p tomorrow up at big hill, the winter carnival will get started at 9 with ski races, group snowshoe outings and fat bike rides. Food from Killians and beer from Crow Peak at 11 and fun games in the meadow at noon. Dad mushing, keg pulling, slow bike races and other fun activities and then next Saturday the 21st, Chinookfest will start at 3 in the parking lot of the former Passion Play Amphitheater at 100 Saint Joe Street. The beerfest will feature 14 breweries from across the state attending to let participants sample beers. We will have live music, aerial acrobatics and fire juggling from Cirka out of Sioux Falls, food trucks, town mascots giving high fives and the lighting of our Chinook fish sculpture and community bonfire at 5:30. Music will go until around 8. This year our musical lineup will be Nevada Ellison, Stank Bank, and our headliner is Denver-based psychedelic-blues band Dragon Deer”.

Kyler shares what does this event mean for the community of Spearfish. He says, “this is an event that has grown fast in 4 short years. As a community that stays busy year-round, it is nice to have an event like Chinook days to highlight Spearfish during the wintertime. From a Spearfish perspective, we see great value in what this event brings to our community for entertainment, getting people to visit our community, and highlighting what we are best at”.

We also heard that a documentary film crew is coming to film some of Chinookfest. Williams says, “we were contacted by a French film crew that is filming a 5 part series called “Great Winds” that will air on the european channel Arte. So they are flying in from France to learn about the weather event that happened in 1943, interview some locals and then film the festival that celebrates it! it should be fun”. He further elaborates on why this event has taken off so well. “This event has grown well thanks to a great group of committee members representing many different organizations. Chinook Days celebrates our community and it truly takes a community to put it on as well as great support from our many sponsors. We are excited for our 4th annual event and invite everyone come up to Spearfish and celebrate the many events”, says Williams.