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Cowboys: a Driving Force at Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park

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PIERRE, S.D. – Five dozen cowboys will be in the saddle when the 46th annual Buffalo Roundup thunders through Custer State Park on September 26.  Leading the way will be a core group of 20 riders, who bring more than 200 years of combined experience herding the two ton animals.

“Their expertise is critical to the success of the Roundup,” says Richard Miller, superintendent at Custer State Park. “There’s an old saying, ‘You can herd buffalo anywhere they want to go.’ It’s impressive, the way our riders safely keep these big animals moving and guide them into the holding corrals so we can count, sort, test and vaccinate them.”

The core group of riders comes from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some are cowboys and ranchers. Others are lawyers, teachers, highway patrolmen and bankers.

Each year nearly 100 people apply for a chance to ride in the Roundup. Only 20 are selected for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in an Old West tradition.

“Seeing 1,300 buffalo galloping across the park and feeling the ground shake as they come closer… that’s the main attraction each year at the buffalo round-up,” says James D. Hagen, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism. “However, the show wouldn’t be possible without a supporting cast, including the cowboys on horseback.”

14,000 spectators gathered for the roundup in 2010. Organizers expect a similar turnout this year. The action begins at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, September 26, with parking opening at 6:15 a.m. and closing at 9 a.m.

Fast Facts

  • The yearly roundup is a continuation of the efforts to preserve and protect buffalo in South Dakota for future generations.
  • A buffalo auction is held each November. Two hundred to 225 animals will be sold.
  • Custer State Park encompasses 71,000 acres.

Quick Links
Custer State Park
Archive film of the 1934 roundup


Wanda Goodman
Media & Industry Relations Manager for the SD Department of Tourism
Phone: 605-773-3301

Richard Miller
Superintendent for Custer State Park
Phone: 605-255-4515

Craig Pugsley
Manger of Visitor Services
Phone: 605-255-4515