DEADWOOD — Wild Bill Days explodes into Deadwood this weekend.
Deadwood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lee Harstad said celebrating the life and times of Deadwood’s most famous, or, infamous, resident, started out as Charlie Utter Days years ago.
“But Wild Bill was more popular than Mr. Utter around the world, and so Wild Bill Days it was: A celebration of all things Deadwood and Deadwood history and throwing a party that Wild Bill himself would appreciate,” he said.
Harstad said the biggest change this year is a new mix of live entertainment, featuring four of country’s biggest names.
“We are packing a ton of entertainment into two days,” Harstad said. “For Friday, we have the Roots and Boots tour, a triple header featuring three major country music stars all playing on the same stage Friday night, so that’s a pretty big one for us.”
The Roots & Boots Tour features Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, and Colin Raye. Saturday night’s entertainment features Tracy Byrd.
“It’s a very exciting lineup, and that country music era is really one of my favorites, so I’m pretty excited about it,” Harstad said.
Concerts are held on Historic Main Street at 8 p.m. both nights.
Also part of the lineup is the Trial of Jack McCall, which captures a portion of the story surrounding Wild Bill’s demise; Dock Dogs; the Wild Bill Motorcycle Classic; a Classic Car Auction; and a chance to talk with an author who has spent ample time writing about Wild Bill Hickok.
The Trial of Jack McCall, based on the actual trial of Wild Bill’s murderer, will be performed on the Main Street Stage Saturday at noon and has been a main stay in Deadwood since the mid-1920s, making it one of the nation’s longest-running plays. It is a family-friendly show performed by the Deadwood Alive reenactors, and the Saturday show is free, as is all the Wild Bill Days Main Street entertainment.
An immersive experience associated with the 1876 Gold Rush era in Deadwood, the chance to gold pan and see a sluice demonstration or two will again be available on Historic Main Street Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., courtesy of the Northern Hills Prospectors.
DockDogs competitions showcase specially trained retrievers, as well as everyday pets, competing for the title of top dog. Jumping from a carpeted platform into a large, long pool, the dogs try to jump higher and farther or retrieve faster than their competitors. Dock Dogs events start at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday, concluding Saturday afternoon with the DockDogs Speed Retrieve Finals at 5 p.m. and the Big Air Finals at 5:30 p.m. All DockDogs competitions take place at the Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort parking lot. To register a dog in the competition, call (330) 241-4975 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A classic car auction will be held at Deadwood Mountain Grand Saturday, and author Bob Boze Bell will host A” Picnic on the Lawn: the Life and Times of Wild Bill Hickok” at noon Friday at the Historic Adams House, with a book signing from 2-5 p.m. Friday at the Adams Museum
“We will also have our second annual Wild Bill Motorcycle classic Saturday, which was very successful in its first year, and we expect that to continue,” Harstad said. “We’re just looking forward to a fantastic weekend up here in Deadwood.”
With folks lining chairs up on Main Street at the crack of dawn both days, Harstad estimates thousands will ultimately pack in for the concerts.
“We don’t really have any way of counting, because we don’t sell tickets,” Harstad said. “But eight to 10 thousand people would be a fair assessment. And that might be low.”
“The biggest draw for Wild Bill Days is that there is truly something for everyone,” Harstad added. “We have Dock Dogs that appeal to a lot of the families, we have gold panning on Main Street, which is family-friendly, from reenactors performing the Trial of Jack McCall, all the way up to Sammy Kershaw singing ‘Queen of My Double-Wide Trailer.’”