BROOKINGS – Home to Adee Honey Farms, Bruce bills itself as “A Honey of A Place To Bee.”
And as it does every year (scratch 2020 due to the coronavirus) the last weekend of July, Bruce and its bees really come together – this year marks the town’s 30th Honey Days.
“Parading Crazy For 30 Years!” is this year’s theme.
“It’s a Mardi Gras theme,” explained Pennie Lutz, a member of the Bruce Community Club, a volunteer group that plans and executes the annual gala.
“It started as a fundraiser to build the basketball court in town,” Lutz explained in a look-back to the genesis of Honey Days. “It’s just kind of grown from there. That was 1991, and it’s just kind of taken off – for good.”
This year’s festivities kick off at 7 p.m. tonight with what Lutz sees as a key event, the “Queen Bee Contest. We brought that back from 2008, when we did it for the 125th (anniversary of Bruce’s founding).
“We have seven gentlemen who are going to be vying for (the title of) Queen Bee.” MCs for the contest are Brad DeBeer and Kari Westlund.
The gent selected will be marshal for Saturday’s parade. Add to that bragging rights, plus a “small prize, of course.”
A plus following the contest are “KingCake” cupcakes: “We’re hiding bees in some particular cupcakes, and whoever finds the bee in their cupcake that night (wins a prize),” Lutz explained. (She likened the cupcakes to a Mardi Gras Kingcake, with a small baby as a trinket in one piece of the cake.) The one who finds the baby in their piece of cake wins prizes.
The pace picks up on Friday, with a trifecta of events. At noon, the K-Country Cookout takes place in Museum Park. Come 2 p.m., a new event gets started at Kids Park: a 3-on-3 basketball tourney, with brackets for fifth and sixth grades; seventh and eighth grades; ninth and 10th grades; and 11th and 12th grades. “That’s a new thing, trying to find something new for kids,” Lutz explained.
At 6 p.m., the day’s final event, the bean-bag tournament gets underway at the ball diamond, with registration on-site. Bags fly at 7 p.m. Bring your own partner. About 90 teams participated in 2019.
Exit July, enter August
For just about every South Dakota small-town annual festival-type celebration, Saturday is the bring-it-all-together day. So it is with Honey Days.
Events get going early Saturday, go pretty much all day, and roll over into Sunday morning.
At 6:45 a.m. Saturday competitors register at the Bruce Community Center for the 5K run – or walk – or pedal, with a start at 7:30 a.m. And as they’re off, other events get going and keep going, with Saturday likely to be the biggest day of the weekend. People come and go, but, “We have a couple thousand people in town for this,” Lutz said, as a general overview of Honey Days.
The parade gets rolling at 10 a.m. – Mardi Gras! “We don’t hide crazy, we parade it down the street!”
Following the parade comes the car show on main street. At noon it’s time for co-ed volleyball, a tournament that Lutz billed as “usually pretty large,” as many as 40 teams in past years.
A burger feed around lunchtime and a pork barbecue feed about suppertime offer hungry folks a chance to chow down and hear some music while they do: Plum Crazy with their burgers, Lizzie Hofer with their barbecue. Both feeds will also offer some dessert fare: ice cream with honey fudge.
To round out and end a day of celebration, there’s the street dance on Jay Street from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday. The band is “Undercover.” One correction Lutz pointed out is that the dance is open to the public and attendees do not have to be 21. (Some earlier flyers touting Honey Days read: “Must be 21; I.D. required.”)
Sunday starts a new month, and the pace to wrap-up slows. There’s an American Legion pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m., followed by a community church service in Museum Park. And volleyball continues.
The afternoon has some good stuff for the kids: a bike rodeo at 1 p.m. followed by a bike parade, both at the ball diamond. Kids entertainer Phil Baker will stop by the ball diamond at 3 p.m.
The grand finale follows Town and Country Softball at 6:30 p.m. It’s the drawing for the Honey Days quilt. Marilyn Eighmy, former Bruce resident, continues to make the quilts; she uses current and past Honey Days T-shirts. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5.
Contact John Kubal at [email protected]