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Summer Rodeo is Big Sport in the Black Hills

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BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (3/17/09) – The best professional athletes in the world converge each summer on the Black Hills of South Dakota to test their cowboy skills in the age-old sport of rodeo.

They compete in the big Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) events such as the Black Hills Roundup in Belle Fourche, the Crazy Horse Stampede near Custer, the Days of ’76 Rodeo in Deadwood and the Range Days Rodeo in Rapid City. But rodeo in the Black Hills is not solely a sport for the circuit pros. There are smaller, community-based rodeos throughout the summer in places such as Wall, Dupree, Interior, Oelrichs, White River and Isabel.

For visitors to the Black Hills, rodeos offer a chance to experience Western culture and rural traditions that have thrived more than a century.  Many rodeos are communitywide festivals with parades, carnivals, music and more.  Rodeo is also the official state sport in South Dakota.

The Black Hills Roundup in Belle Fourche, July 2-4, includes a mile-long parade, a barbecue, a carnival, Western art, a fireworks show and the Miss Rodeo South Dakota Contest. And this year the Black Hills Roundup has teamed up with Rod Woodruff, music promoter and owner of the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground, to stage a July 4 concert that will feature country rockers Little Texas and Nashville star Jake Owen.

In its 90th year, the Black Hills Roundup is the grand-daddy of South Dakota rodeos. It’s one of the longest-running, continuously operating outdoor rodeo events in the United States.

 “Belle Fourche is a cowboy town. It always has been,” said Gabby Bush, chairman of the Black Hills Roundup Committee. For more information, contact the Belle Fourche Area Chamber of Commerce at (605) 892-2676.

Here’s a rundown of some other rodeos in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Crazy Horse Stampede – June 19-21 at Crazy Horse Memorial

The Crazy Horse Stampede, in its 19th year, combines Western cowboy traditions with Native American culture. It’s one of the few rodeos in the country sanctioned by both the PRCA and Great Plains Indian Rodeo Association (GPIRA).

It is staged beneath the massive Crazy Horse Memorial, a carving-in-progress to honor Crazy Horse, the legendary Oglala Lakota leader. Like the sculpture, the Crazy Horse Stampede was created in part to bridge the gap and create understanding between Native Americans and non-Indian. For more information, call 605-673-4681.

Days of ’76 Rodeo, July 21-25 in Deadwood

Nearly as old as its Belle Fourche counterpart, the annual Days of ’76 Rodeo began in 1923. Over the years it has built a tradition as a high-quality rodeo venue and a free-wheeling celebration in this historic city. The Days of ’76 rodeo grounds are nestled in the Black Hills town of Deadwood, with scenic views to entertain between the rodeo action. The event also features parades and city-wide entertainment.

For nine of the past 10 years, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has named the Days of ‘76 Rodeo the top medium-sized outdoor rodeo of the year. For more information, call 1-800-999-1876 or go online at

PRCA Range Days Rodeo, Aug. 21-23 in Rapid City

This rodeo is part of the Central States Fair, which takes place Aug. 21 to 30 in Rapid City. The rodeo is one of several grandstand events during the fair. Entertainers Joe Nichols, the Red Willow Band, Miranda Lambert and Jason Aldean will take the stage.

And PRCA cowboys will compete against each other in the big Central States arena. In past years, contestants have included Jeff Willert, Jesse Bail, Lisa Lockhardt, Cody Buller and Jill Moode.

For more information, call 605-355-3861 or visit

Amateur Rodeos

The South Dakota Rodeo Association puts on 25 rodeo events across the state. The association began as the South Dakota Amateur Rodeo Association in 1955, and it has 450 members from across the state.

Black Hills SDRA events include:

  • July 3-4: Interior 4th of July Rodeo
  • July 9-11:  102nd Wall Celebration
  • July 11-12: Dupree Pioneer Days Rodeo
  • Aug 1-2:  Isabel Rodeo
  • Aug 7-9:  Faith Stock Show & Rodeo
  • Sept 12-13: Oelrichs Last Round Up

Koreen Anderson, SDRA executive director, said the association’s rodeos are meant to be informal and fun. Members include up-and-coming rodeo cowboys and people who have full-time day jobs but still enjoy weekend competition of rodeo.

The average SDRA rodeo draws about 350 competitors, and when the rodeo comes to town the party begins. Most events include dances and festivals. For more information about SDRA, call Anderson at (605) 374-7731.

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