‘There’s No Place Like Home’ at Pioneer Days this weekend

Jill Fier/Register: Eunice Simmons and Gayle Neuhardt, both of White, work on their entry for the Pioneer Days chili cookoff in 2018.

White’s 135th annual celebration set for Thursday through Sunday

WHITE – Some revelers in White may pay homage to their home in north central Brookings County, and others could take on the likeness of Dorothy, the Wicked Witch of the West and other characters from “The Wizard of Oz” later this week.

The community of nearly 500 is gearing up for its 135th annual Pioneer Days celebration, which has a theme of “There’s No Place Like Home.”

The Pioneer Days Committee has four days packed full of fun, committee president Jennifer Olson said, with some activities expected to double the size of White.


The fun starts with a free pork loin feed in the city park from 5:30-7 p.m. today. A new event to Pioneer Days is the Kids’ Tractor Pull, with registration at 5:30 p.m. and a 6:15 p.m. start time, also at the city park. For more information, call Bethann Murphy at 864-1218.

A run/walk starts at 8 p.m., and no registration is required.


The Pioneer Days Golf Tournament lasts all day at Six Mile Creek Golf Course on Friday.

Another popular attraction for the weekend celebration is the bean bag tournament, starting at 8 p.m. at Lefty’s Sports Pub on Main Street. Registration starts at 6 p.m., with a cost of $20 per team. No coolers are allowed. For more information, call Jodi Olson at 695-2358.

Jennifer Olson said she expects to see anywhere from 60-75 teams for the tournament.

It’s followed by karaoke from 9 p.m.-1 a.m.


Saturday is the busiest day in White, with events gearing up at 9 a.m. and stretching into the wee hours Sunday morning.

Co-ed volleyball starts at 9 a.m. in the city park, and there’s a $60 registration fee. For more information, call Cassidy Baumann at 691-1753.

The historical museum, log cabin and schoolhouse are open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, and the annual historical society book sale is at the museum.

Both starting at 11 a.m. are the community library book sale on Main Street and the parade. “We have one of the biggest parades in the area,” Olson said.

Olson said the El Riad Shrine Motor Corps, Sprint Cars and Clowns will perform in the parade, bringing even more participants than last year.

Lunch will be available starting at 11:30 a.m. Visitors can choose from the Legion Auxiliary offerings at McKnight Hall, or head to the park to see what various food vendors have available.

All the Saturday afternoon fun is located at the park, with the 19th annual chili cookoff (before that it was a state chili cookoff) starting at noon. Olson expects to see about 25-30 teams cooking up pots of chili.

The kids’ plate drop starts at 12:30 p.m. for those 13 and younger, and bingo is planned for 12:30-1:45 p.m. at a cost of $5 for two cards. The kids’ sand dig starts at 12:45 p.m.

After that, kids can stay entertained with the petting zoo from 1-3 p.m. (a new addition) and inflatables and laser tag from 1-4 p.m.

Buy a pigeon and watch it fly in the pigeon auction, starting at 1:15 p.m.

Another new addition to the Saturday events in the park this year is the Brookings Area Community Band entertaining the crowd starting at 1:45 p.m. Olson said she’s expecting about 35 musicians.

The competition gets serious at 3 p.m., when chili tasting and judging starts. Judges will be across the street from the park, but visitors are welcome to buy tickets for chili sampling at all the booths. The chili winners will be announced at 4 p.m.

“Judging is serious. We place out trophies and cash prizes. People who have won, they have their trophies out there if they’re cooking again,” Olson said.

A 5:30 p.m. social hour precedes the 6:30 p.m. alumni banquet at Deubrook.

Then things get wild at the street dance from 9 p.m.-1 a.m., with music from Jade Monkey. Admission is free.


Sunday fun starts with a breakfast buffet hosted by the White American Legion from 8-11 a.m. at McKnight Hall for a free-will donation.

At 3 p.m., the crowds will head to the recently resurrected demolition derby on West Main Street.

Olson said this will be the third year for the derby after it took a 16-year break following its heydays in the 1980s and early 1990s. 

“A lot of us who grew up in the area missed it, so we started looking at how to bring it back,” Olson said.

She expects about 35-40 participants, and the event attracts a huge crowd of about 1,000. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6-18 years, and no coolers are allowed.

For more information, contact David Murphy at 690-5631.

Find more information about Pioneer Days online at www.facebook.com/PioneerDaysWhiteSD or at https://white.govoffice2.com. 

Contact Jill Fier at [email protected]


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