Winter in Hill City:  lots to do

Gray Hughes

The thermometer might say it’s cold, but Hill City is heating up with events being held in town this winter.

From chili to film festivals and many activities in between, Hill City will be the place to be this winter.

“Hill City has an incredible roster of happenings and events all year long that have put us on the map in the minds of local residents and area/regional visitors. Our events have made Hill City known for ‘always having something going on,’” said Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce director Janet Wetovick-Bily. “We have signature Hill City events that people count on from year to year, and our area member businesses and merchants continue to augment those with other in-store or in-business happenings and activities that draw their customers, fans and followers, too.”

This winter is kicking off with great weather and a great set of first quarter happenings, Wetovick-Bily said, and, as always, the chamber is excited to show off Hill City to both community members and guests.

Especially exciting this year, thanks to support from the Hill City Common Council for first quarter advertising bed, booze and board (BBB) monies along with input and dedication from area businesses and many Main Street merchants, the message this year, Wetovick-Bily said, is Hill City is open. The chamber along with area merchants are encouraging people to look to Hill City to find “their pleasure,” whether it’s to enjoy the day, a dining experience, a shopping trip and open house or class, a music event or to spend an entire weekend with a lodging partner in town.

In order to do this, Wetovick-Bily said the chamber is using print and radio advertising, traditional publicity and promotion methods and social media tactics to get the message out.

“As can sometimes happen with winter blues, people are always looking for great reasons to get out, get some fresh air and for something fun to do,” Wetovick-Bily said. “We want to encourage awareness of Hill City as the best place to do that because it is right here in the Heart of the Black Hills.”

Here’s a look at some of the events happening in Hill City during the first quarter:

Open Stage, Jan. 11 and 25, Feb. 8, March 14 and 28, High Country Guest Ranch. Performances start at 6 p.m.

Open Stage is Hill City Arts Council’s winter music showcase. Open Stage gives both new performers and seasoned acts a place to perform. The showcase also helps local promoters find and hire performers for summer shows and festivals.

Both local and regional singers and songwriters as well as poets, storytellers, dances, jugglers and comedians are welcome.

There is a free-will donation that helps support scholarship programs and art education grants for local kids.

A $12 dinner at the event goes to support Hill City Young Life.

Breakin’ the Winter Blues Chili Cook-Off, Jan. 18, Main Street Hill City

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, area businesses and Main Street merchants compete for bragging rights for the best white, red and green chili. Try nearly 20 pots of chili and vote for the best. Look for door prizes, too.

Tour de Chocolate, Feb. 8, Main Street Hill City

This event is always held the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day. Come stroll Hill City’s Main Street shops and businesses for chocolate delights, gifts for your Valentine and experience the ambiance in Hill City as well as its charm and hospitality.

This is a family-friendly event with treats and specials at Main Street merchants and area businesses in and around Hill City

Polar Bear Chili

Cook-Off and

Minnow Races, Feb. 8, Main Street Hill City

Come for the chocolate, stay for the chili! The same day as the Tour de Chocolate, the Tin City Masons Lodge No. 112 will host the Polar Bear Chili Cook-Off and Minnow Races. Look for more on this event later.

This event will be held on Main Street.

Black Hills Film Festival in Hill City Feb. 22-23

The Black Hills Film Festival kicks off the new decade with big changes. Based off of feedback from audience surveys, the board of directors of the film festival has selected a new season and new dates, Feb. 20-25. The festival will be in Hill City Feb. 22-23. Look for more on this event later.

Hill City Antiques-Railroad Show and Sale, March 21-22

From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 21 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 22 at Hill City High School, head to Hill City’s Antique and Railroad Show and Sale. The show is perfect for lovers of all things antique and vintage as well as railroad related. Spruce up your home or favorite space with items purchased from the show.

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