Custer State Park  winds down the summer season with a task that started as buffalo herd management and is now an event that attracts thousands of people. At the end of September, the buffalo are herded into corrals for vaccinations, tests, branding, and sorting. Most bison are returned to the park, but many will be auctioned off.
Park management noticed early that the sight of 1,500 bison being rounded up was fairly impressive and elected to open the process to the public.
Roundup weekend begins with the Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival. On Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of artists and craftspeople set up booths near the State Game Lodge . There’s a pancake breakfast, and a Chili Cookoff (in which buffalo meat must be included in the recipe) is a festival highlight. Entertainment is scheduled throughout the day. Dancing, music, and a buffalo chip toss are other festival favorites.
Monday morning brings the roundup itself. The Wildlife Loop  provides access to the viewing areas from either end of the loop, though the south viewing area provides more extended bison views. Park employees direct visitors to parking areas. Go early as the crowds start to arrive at 6:30 a.m. Bring coffee and snacks since bison aren’t always amenable to being herded and the wait can be unpredictable.
The bison are guided to the corrals by men and women on horseback, a dangerous task for both horse and rider. Behind the horses are the pickup trucks and ATVs, which take away from the ambience of the event but add to its expediency.