Annual Military Appreciation Event

What started 35 years ago as a casual BBQ has evolved into a fun community event that hosts over 500 military families.

As a community, the Black Hills is proud to be the home of Ellsworth AFB and several South Dakota National Guard units. We are grateful for the selfless commitment our military members and families give in the defense of our freedoms. Each year, we take time at the Military Appreciation Event to recognize a handful of these Airmen and Soldiers for their outstanding achievements in both their career and community.

The Military Appreciation Event is hosted by a group of community members, businesses, the Black Hills Military Coalition, Elevate Rapid City and the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority.


 2020 Ellsworth Air Force Base Honorees

Pictured Above: 2020 Honorees

2021 Event // 35th Year

35th Annual Military Appreciation EventWe’re extremely thankful this year is allowing us to gather and show appreciation together at a live event.

When: October 1, 2021
Where: Central States Fairgrounds
Time: 4 to 8 PM

There is no admission fee, so come out and enjoy endless amounts of family fun while we honor, recognize and show appreciation of ten airmen and soldiers, two military spouse, two civilian employees and one great business.  From bounce houses and face paint to live music, beverages, and food available for purchase from local Food Trucks, everyone in the family will be able to enjoy themselves.

Full event line up to come.


Thank you to the following sponsors for contributing to this event; Black Hills Energy, West River Electric, LIV Hospitality, Midco, Sentinel Federal Credit Union, Liberty Superstores, Scull Construction, Security First Bank, Banner & Associates, Black Hills Harley-Davidson, Monument Health, Black Hills Community Bank, Boeing, Elevate Rapid City, Highmark Credit Union, First Command Financial Planning, South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority.  


Airmen & Soldiers

Each year we pay tribute to 10 honorees — with five representing Ellsworth Air Force Base and five from the South Dakota National Guard. Honoree information and spotlights are hosted on the Black Hills Wire blog and social media platforms. 

Look back on 2020’s honorees here.

Military Spouses

America’s military spouses are the backbone of the families who support our troops during missions, deployments, and reintegrations. They’re the silent heroes who are essential to the strength of the nation, and they serve our country just like their loved ones. We’re glad to be adding this category of recognition with this event.


Civilian Employee 

It takes more than just airmen and soldiers to protect our country. Both the South Dakota National Guard and Ellsworth Air Force Base have employees who fill critical Department of Defense roles including cyber security, engineering, medicine, administrative positions and they deserve recognition for their efforts as well.

Military Friendly Businesses – nominated by the public!

Our military community is blessed with love and support from so many businesses throughout the Black Hills. Many business owners have made a commitment and continued effort in creating sustainable and meaningful benefits for our military members and families. Whether it’s through a discount or general support, we’d like to extend a special thank you with this award.

Below are just a few ways businesses are considered military friendly.

  • > Veteran Owned
  • > Veteran/Military Spouse Employer
  • > Offers a Military Discount
  • > Supports Military Events
  • > Volunteers/Gives Back to Military Community


Know a military friendly business?

Submit Nomination