June 11, 2016, is Buzzard Day in Glendive, Montana, and neighboring Makoshika, the state’s largest park, which covers 11,538 acres at an elevation of 2,415 feet above sea level. It falls on the second Saturday of June and celebrates the return of turkey vultures to eastern Montana.
The name Makoshika (Ma-ko’-shi-ka) is derived from a Lakota phrase meaning bad land or bad earth. The park contains rock formations, the fossil remains of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops and miles of hiking trails and scenic drives.
Today’s main event is Montana’s toughest 10k run. There will also be a 5k run and a disc golf tournament. Kids can participate in a fun run/walk, play miniature golf and jump in a bouncy house. Lurch, a turkey vulture, will visit from ZooMontana, a 70-acre wildlife park in Billings that is the state’s only zoo.
A “Native American Heritage Display” will be on view. Since the 2010 census showed that only 2.4% of Glendive’s 4,935 residents were Native American (94.4% Caucasian, 0.5% African-American, 0.4% Asian, 2.3% other), we’re guessing there won’t be many Lakota on hand to man the booth.
Makoshika State Park’s newly renovated visitor center houses a Triceratops skull, other kid-friendly exhibits and, of course, a gift shop. Pick up souvenirs of your visit and learn about other park events including March for Parks, Montana Shakespeare in the Park and a summer youth program.
Happy Buzzard Day! Say hi to Lurch for us!