Buffalo on Every Corner

Downtown Custer, South Dakota is little more than a strip of shops ranging from Western-style tourist shops and galleries, to Tarot card readers, souvenir hawkers, and thrift stores. Custer has its own unique character and has expressed it in the form of buffalo sculptures on every corner.

Like the Big Pig Gig in Cincinnati, each Custer buffalo is painted with a theme and a sponsor. As a marketing tool, it was genius; I zigzagged across every street and wandered past every shop in town.

And then, of course, my daughter and I had to choose which were our favorites.

It wasn’t easy. Neither one of us could choose just one. Topping my list were the American flag buffalo and the skeleton. Plus, the one pictured above in the bottom-right corner. But they were all captivating. I loved being able to see the whole collection just by walking through town. It was like a treasure hunt through Custer to find them all.

I learned that the Buffalo art is auctioned off each year as part of the Annual Custer Stampede Buffalo Art Auction. I’d love to meet the artists and the buyers and see the passion of the community in supporting its arts and heritage. If I’ve never mentioned it before, I love community arts projects!

Are there community art projects that excite you, too?




27 responses to “Buffalo on Every Corner

  1. When I think of Custer, SD I think of buffalo – what GREAT art! The town I call home has painted Dolphins and paintings of oranges on buildings and it is like a hunt to find them. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  2. I would have been right there with you, Juliann, wandering back and forth across the road, photographing the buffalo. It’s a fun takeoff on the cow theme with a Native American twist. The town of Cherokee in North Carolina just outside of the Great Smokey National Park features painted buffalo as well. The town of Florence on the Oregon Coast features seals. All of these wonderful animals have shown up on my posts. Thanks for taking me to the buffalo of downtown Custer. –Curt

    • It’s fun to walk through a city and see all the different themes inspired by the people there. I’m still excited every time I stumble upon a Pig in Cincinnati that I hadn’t seen before.

  3. What a great way to showcase the city! I love when public art is integrated into its surrounding environment since it doesn’t feel intrusive and just feels like it belongs. There are a set of stairs in San Francisco that have mosaics embedded into them. When you look up at just the right angle, the mosaics on each step form a complete picture.

  4. Buffalo art is definitely a way to promote the destination! In Taiwan, we have Taiwanese black bear art to promote tourism in Taiwan!

  5. This reminds me of the birds in Ulm Germany. We saw them all throughout the city but nobody really knew why they were there. Just public art. After living in San Diego, started to love the artwork on the utility boxes. Not as intrinsically cool as buffalo, some of the painted boxes were really good.

  6. I love the idea of different buffalo! I’d probably run around trying to find all of them, haha. I was in South Dakota waaaaaaay back in 1994, and it’s a state I’ve been meaning to return to for some time now. Would definitely add Custer to my roster of stops.

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