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'Freedom Fest' Brings Thousands To Black Hills

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Freedom Fest

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is one of more than a hundred speakers on the program at Freedom Fest. Rapid City hosts the annual event for the first time beginning Wednesday.  

The event is held at The Monument Civic Center and organizers anticipate about 2,600 people. 

The Festival is billed as the “largest liberty event in the world.” 

The agenda includes a wide range of topics. From the 2nd amendment to education, cryptocurrency to reparations, and even a panel on decriminalizing sex work. 

Speakers include actor Dennis Quaid, Utah Senator Mike Lee, Governor Kristi Noem, and others. Mark Skousen is the founder of Freedom Fest. He calls the event the largest gathering of free minds. 

“We’ve met for the last 14 years in Las Vegas in July,” Skousen says. “It’s really been a lot of fun. We attract several thousand people from the United States and all over the world. We talk politics, philosophy, history, science and technology, music, dance. It’s a little bit of everything.”  

Skousen says the festival is branching out from Las Vegas and chose South Dakota because of the pandemic. He says the state has the fewest restrictions. Freedom Fest will return to Las Vegas every other year but be held in other American cities.  

Skousen says the event may trend libertarian but is centered around civil discourse and debate over ideas. 

“We’re trying to achieve best solutions, rather than name-calling or labeling that goes on. We try to discourage that as much as possible, so everyone feels welcome,” Skousen says. “We’ve had people from across the political spectrum say, ‘It was really nice to have my point of view presented without someone yelling at me or calling me a racist,’ whatever the term may be to criticize people. We desperately need that in this country.” 

The event costs $400 for South Dakota residents to register. Media representatives pay $150 and a live stream of the sessions costs $125.