What Fairburn, South Dakota Means to Me

Every summer my husband’s extended family has a family reunion at a different location around the southern Black Hills; usually in one of the small towns where different relatives who volunteered to host, live or once  lived. It’s always held in the summertime, oftentimes around the Fourth of July or Memorial Day.


This year family congregated at Fairburn, South Dakota’s fire hall again. Everyone begins by making rounds exchanging hugs, catching up and getting into lengthy conversations with each other and arrange their potluck dish to share on the long tables for the dinner.

I told my daughter to get some photos of the potluck food and this is what she got. Funny how it was these three things that were all she put on her plate. No pictures of the potluck salads, beans and other yummy foods I had.

After everyone’s gone through the line and found a place to sit and eat, relatives exchange hugs, have lengthy conversations, and catch up all over again with the latecomers and go back for a sample of the new food that’s just arrived.

After all of the musically inclined relatives have eaten, they dig out their instruments  and gather around in something of a circle and begin playing crowd favorite old songs and hymns. It’s a real treat for me because there are fiddles, mandolins, guitars, and harmonies of voices that sing better than I do.

 When my kids were tots there was a highly anticipated kid’s treasure hunt, but many of the kids have outgrown them and so did the tradition. One of the most memorable reunions was when Wyoming relatives brought out their miniature ponies. They gave kids cart rides all afternoon and were a huge hit.

This is Clyde.

Essentially, Clyde is what Fairburn means to me. I picture him in his straw hat anytime I overhear someone mention “Fairburn.”

He’s one of my favorites of all my husband’s extended relatives and I always look forward to seeing and visiting with Clyde at reunions. He’s known my dad for years before my husband and I ever laid eyes on each other. He always asks about my dad every time we see each other.

Clyde is a very tall man. I’m pretty sure the waistband of his Wranglers is level with my armpits. You think I’m kidding.

He may very well be the tallest  cowboy I know, but I’ve never known him to look down on anyone. I don’t see Clyde much unless it’s at a family reunion or a farm/ranch auction in the area. I’m guessing auctions are his social outlet and excuse to get off his place because I don’t recall seeing him in our neck of the woods for any other reason.

He’s an integral part of Fairburn’s Volunteer Fire Department and he arranged the family reunion at the fire hall this year. The last time I saw him (same place), he guilted my husband into getting back on Pringle’s Fire Department again and to do his civic duty to his community.

 At this year’s reunion, my daughter and I represented our family and spent time walking around the town with our cameras. We covered the town in twenty minutes.

Fairburn directory

Fairburn is famous for the Agate beds outside of town and the location isn’t hard to find. Fairburn Agates are highly sought after with local rock hounds. They are fun to look for as a family especially after hard rain, but this tiny ranch country town (population 75) is also famous for its  rattlesnakes.

 These were posts of an abandoned  building that someone carved a rattler and deck of cards on. It’s my assumption that card-playing and rattlers have always been prominent in the community.


The old school is now Fairburn’s museum.

Fairburn’s Post Office

I always wonder what life was like in Fairburn when places like these were frequented more.


The bridge over French Creek at the edge of town is a favorite kid magnet during family reunion. I guess because there’s water there??? There were lots of kid-sized tracks in the soft mud under the bridge.

This is one of my favorite sights in Fairburn; a pay phone basically in someone’s front yard. For lost travelers? It’s reassuring to me that it’s there, because I can see myself  having to use it and I definitely took note of its existence.

Fairburn’s main street headed out of town.

Our view as we headed home. Just another one of South Dakota’s beautiful byways.

One response to “What Fairburn, South Dakota Means to Me”

  1. carl larson Avatar
    carl larson

    Really enjoy your Country Living in TRI STATE

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