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Eat a buffalo burger and throw some buffalo chips

LUVERNE -- What began as a way to celebrate the only state-owned buffalo herd in Minnesota has grown into the 22nd annual Buffalo Days celebration in Luverne, complete with a grand parade, craft fair and notorious buffalo chip-throwing contest.

The event, slated for Friday through Sunday, coincides with the Minnesota State Park open house -- a weekend in which people can visit any state park within Minnesota's boundaries for free.

"The community wanted to do something to ... show off Blue Mound State Park," Luverne Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dave Smith said.

Originally, Buffalo Days included a parade and buffalo chip-throwing contest on Main Street. About a dozen years ago, a free buffalo burger feed was added.

"That's when the bison herd got large enough," Smith said, that they could process one of the animals to supply buffalo burgers to park visitors.

The free buffalo burger feed will cap off the weekend's events, with serving beginning at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at walk-in sites near Blue Mound State Park's shelter house. Serving will continue until approximately 1,200 burgers are given away.

Tom Sawtelle, the state park's assistant manager, said the burger feed is traditionally a well-attended event.

"It doesn't take long for the burgers to disappear," he said. Buffalo burgers are touted as a leaner meat than ground beef burgers.

This year's Buffalo Days celebration will include one new event -- dog relay races.

Dog relay demonstrations will be performed at 11:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Luverne City Park, Smith said, adding that there will be two lanes for the races, with three dogs per relay team.

The Buffalo Days schedule also includes:

- Cruise-In for antique and classic cars, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday, on Main Street in downtown Luverne.

- 5K and 10K Run, with registration beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at the Rock County Community Pool. A half-mile run for children ages 12 and younger will begin at 7 p.m., with the 5K and 10K slated for 7:15 p.m.

- Belgian waffle feed, sponsored by the Southwest Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross, from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, at the American Legion Hall in downtown Luverne.

- Buffalo Days parade at 10 a.m. Saturday on Luverne's Main Street.

- Arts in the Park at Luverne's city park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. More than 100 vendors are expected to take part in the art and craft sale.

- Auto show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the city park.

- Buffalo-chip throwing contest will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday in the city park.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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