The Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo recently celebrated its 55th year, returning to Rapid City, S.D., for a 10-day run starting January 25 and ending on February 3. Events were held in two locations — the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center downtown and the Kjerstad Event Center at the Central States Fairgrounds.
The Black Hills Stock Show (ElHSS) was originally called the Black Hills Winter Show and began in 1959. Held at the fairgrounds, it was a creation of the chamber of commerce ag committee. That year three breeds of cattle were featured — Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn. More breeds were added year after year, and in 1966 the chamber ag committee passed over the reins to the Central States Fair. The name was then changed to what it is known as today.
The first BHSS Rodeo performance occurred in 1978 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Sutton Rodeo Company of Onida, S.D., and the Central States Fair combined to produce the event. In 1990 the civic center became the permanent home for the BHSS. In 1996 two contracts for the event were issued by that entity; one was received by Sutton Rodeo and the other by the Central States Fair.
Since those early beginnings, the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo has grown tremendously. There are now 10 breeds of cattle represented through shows and sales, a two-day horse sale, over 300 trade show vendors, several PRCA rodeos plus high school rodeo showcases and bull riding only events. The PRCA Rodeo draws top contestants from around the country as well as from Canada, and has been named “Best Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year” twice. It has been nominated for the award 15 times.
Sutton Rodeo keeps things entertaining for the audience. As if the rodeo action itself wasn’t enough, each year the Suttons feature specialty acts that perform during the rodeo events. This year it was the “Rodeo Girls,” a trio of trick and roman riding women and their highly trained horses. In years past, acts have included Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey, the One Arm Bandit, and the Priefert Draft Hitch.
Last year’s BHSS and Rodeo brought 330,000 people to Rapid City and pumped an estimated $22 million into the local economy — quite a shot in the arm. Many people return year after year, even making their stay here an annual family vacation. With all there is to see and do, why not? Hope to see you next year! ❖