I was just getting used to my first full-time job in Gordon during the summer of 2016 when my husband asked me about going to the 41st annual Fur Trade Days events throughout the weekend. Dylan had lived in Chadron for four years now and enjoyed walking around Chadron looking at the vendors. Later that week, a press release came across my email about festivities happening for the event from a carnival and street dance to a buffalo chip throw.

Enjoying Chadron Fur Trade Days with the buffalo chip throw.

Posted by Lauren Brant on Saturday, July 14, 2018

Talking it over with my husband, he decided to use his discus technique to spin the buffalo chip. As we walked down Main Street and signed him up for the event, he watched the trees for wind direction. With his name on the list, he was asked to select a couple chips to throw. He decided to go for the biggest ones he could find. I found a spot in front of the courthouse and set up my camera. As I checked my settings, I started to see chunks of chips fly into the street beside me. Dylan was breaking up his pieces into a circular disc shape to fit his hand. Watching the other competitors throw their chips and the explosion upon hitting the road was entertaining for the audience, but slightly dangerous for myself. One contender lost his grip as he spun around and the chip flew right over my head and hit the brick along the sidewalk. That was a close call and with Dylan up, I figured I should prepare for impact should his chip come my direction. As he spun around and launched the chip into the air, the audience let out a gasp.

His chip went halfway up the block, several feet from the next closest chip. While waiting for the measurement, Dylan grabbed his next buffalo chip and returned to the throwing ring. His first throw was over 100 feet. With one good mark, he decided to overhand throw the second buffalo chip like a baseball. As his arm came around, a large chunk of the chip flew up into the air as another smaller piece went forward. His second chip broke and some of it came back into his face. I started laughing, knowing that mark was horrible. It was around 20 feet.

After his moment of buffalo chip fame, we watched the rest of the competitors. None came close until the final few throwers broke 100 feet. It had turned into a close contest as we watched one buffalo chip fly over our heads and land in the grass north of the courthouse. Dylan and I turned to look at each other, realizing how far that piece went. The judges declared the grass out of bounds, meaning the throw did not count. They decided to measure it for fun and it was one inch short of Dylan’s best mark. So had the throw stayed in the street, Dylan still would have won with his throw of 110 feet, 1 inch.

I was proud to say my husband won the buffalo chip contest in 2017 and his golden buffalo chip trophy became a centerpiece on our fireplace mantel.

With his golden chip in his hand, Dylan and I walked back to the house with a smile on his face. He called his family to share the news and everyone laughed at the sight of the trophy.

The next day, his picture appeared in the Chadron Record. We learned his toss and victory returned the men’s title to Chadron. The title was lost in 2016 to Kingi Snelgar of Oakland, New Zealand.

While he competed the following year in the chip throw and came up in fourth, it did not matter. Our memories of Chadron’s Fur Trade Days continue to bring back fun memories of flying buffalo chips and the serious fun we had picking the right chip to fly through the air.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.