There's a new event that's creating quite a buzz.

It's the first Midwest Honey Fest, and it will celebrate honey, beekeeping and South Dakota's state insect — the honey bee.

Enjoy beer, wine and mead tasting, live music, seminars and a free home-brewing demonstration during the Midwest Honey Fest on June 8, at Firehouse SmokeJumper Station, 23858 Hwy. 385, in Hill City. Admission is free.

Elaine Romero-Douglas, events coordinator for Firehouse Brewing Co., said the event was inspired by a desire to showcase a local product and resource. 

South Dakota is consistently one of the top honey producers in the United States — No. 2, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. (North Dakota is No. 1.) 

Western South Dakota plays a big part in that. Wannabee Hobby Beekeepers, a local club promoting honey bees and beekeeping in the Black Hills, has more than 200 members. 

"Beekeeping in the local scene is a really big booming thing," Romero-Douglas said. "It’s a really big community."

It's also the perfect time to talk about bee conservation, she said. The inaugural event, which they hope will become an annual affair, will blend food, fun and education, including local vendors with honey and honey-related items for sale and sample. 

"No matter what your interests are, it’s a little bit of everything," Romero-Douglas said.

Bistro items made with local honey will be available to purchase all day. Free local honey sampling starts at 1 p.m. The Wannabee Hobby Beekeepers will present free seminars throughout the afternoon:

12:30 p.m. "Honey Industry in South Dakota" by Bob Reiner from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture

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12:50 p.m. "The Plight of the Honeybee" by beekeeper Jerry Owens

1:10 p.m. "Beekeeping Basics" by Tom Allen

1:30 p.m. "Gardening and Sustainability for Bees" by Michelle Grosek

1:50 p.m. "Community Gardening and Youth Outreach" by Sharon Oney

2:10 p.m. "Supporting Bees in Your City" by Jerry Owens

2:30 p.m. "Planting the Right Seeds for Bees" by Darrel Kjerstad

There will be a free home-brewing demonstration on mead by Bob Cronin and Tom Repas from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mead, also known as "honey wine," is an ancient drink believed by many to be the first fermented beverage.

A $16 ticket is your admission to the honey beer and mead tasting from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with live music by Cambria String Band.

The ticket includes a souvenir Midwest Honey Fest tasting glass and unlimited samples of local and national honey brews. Featured locals include Lost Cabin Beer Co., Remedy, Rushmore Brewing Co., Dakota Point, The Knuckle, Big Lost Meadery and many more.

To buy tickets online, go to midwesthoneyfest.com. They will also be available at the event.

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— Journal staffer Tanya Manus contributed to this report

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