Subscribe for 33¢ / day

The South Dakota primary is still weeks away, but a number of Bernie Sanders supporters see it as a great time to get people excited and bring them together.

Black Hills Bernfest 2016 will take place Friday night at The Seed Theater as a way to gear up for the primary and a celebration with music, dance, spoken word and more.

The event, courtesy of Black Hills for Bernie Sanders, will feature Sanders literature, volunteer opportunities and voter registration forms (donations will not be accepted, however).

"We really just wanted to have an event to bring supporters together and celebrate all of the hard work in the community," said Rachel Caesar, co-chair for Black Hills for Bernie Sanders.

In addition, there will be music by Deb Lux and Gordy Pratt, Mystery Pills, Linda Boyle, Steve Thorpe and Amanda Conway; performances from DJ Micah and DJ Kelly Kelz; dance performances by Andrea Schaefer and Katrina Wilke; and a spoken-word performance by Miguel Wanbli.

"It's been really thrilling," Boyle said. "We've gathered so many beloved musicians from the Black Hills, and Miguel Wambli is so well-spoken and talented. It's good to see young people who represent the best in our community."

Boyle, a social justice singer-songwriter originally from Chicago who will perform her original song "Feel the Bern! Feel the Bern!," is co-organizer for the event.

"Being from a big town, I didn't know that there were a lot of people here who want change," Boyle said. "We want people to know there's solidarity in numbers, and that it's an intergenerational group. I'm certainly not a millennial."

That's a thought echoed by co-organizer and event manager Adam Christianson, who drew attention to the mix of folk singers and lo-fi indie artists, dancers and DJs on the bill.

"We tried to pick a diverse group of artists to show there's a lot of people from different backgrounds coming together," Christianson said. "There's a lot of groups that circulate but don't come together as one cohesive unit. We'd like to bring that community together."

Many of the performers provided their own reasons for performing.

"This election will be the first time in my life I've had a chance to vote for someone who has lived the best ideals of my generation," singer-songwriter Steve Thorpe said in the program for the event.

"(Sanders) addresses the Native American Tribes and is willing to work with us in the correct manner, nation to nation," Miguel Wambli said in the program.

Christianson was also happy to announce that Nicole Willis, Bernie Sanders' National Tribal Outreach Director, would attend and speak at the event.

Black Hills Bernfest's organizers said that they hoped the event would extend beyond Bernie Sanders.

"It's thrilling to find support beyond Bernie Sanders, for environmental justice, having effect on legislation and putting progressive leaders in," Boyle said.

"I hope people walk away with a sense of belonging," Christianson said. "There are people who feel the same way about the issues here, it's just not advertised yet."

Contact Max B. O'Connell at 394-8427 or

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.