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Growing event Black Hills Stock Show evolves into premier winter event

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on Jan. 18, 2020

Rapid City, S.D. – What started out in 1958 as an ag committee meeting at the Rapid City Laundry, has evolved into a premier event attended by people all over the country. Members of the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee gathered in that laundromat to brainstorm about a plan to incorporate the rural lifestyles into the urban community of Rapid City. 

            At the time, members were concerned that with a 12 percent population living on farms or ranches, the rural way of life would soon be forgotten in favor of an urban lifestyle. It was their goal to create an event that could potentially preserve agricultural communities and lifestyles.

            What they came up with was the Black Hills Winter Show, which would become the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS) eight years later. The first winter show was held in 1959 at the Central States Fairgrounds with three breeds of cattle – Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn. 

            The event was deemed a success and has grown from there into what it is today. 

            “There was not a lack of excitement,” according to the BHSS website revealing the history of the show. “Ranch wives took in the vendors that were housed in the Alfalfa Palace, along with demonstrations on cooking and sewing. The men were able to look at quality livestock and socialize with other people in the industry.” 

Growing event

            The event continued to grow and control was passed on to the Black Hills Exposition in 1966, which changed the name to the Black Hills Stock Show. A horse sale was added to BHSS in 1980 along with a PRCA rodeo at the Civic Center. BHSS moved to the Civic Center in 1981 to provide the event with more room to grow.

            This year will be the 62nd Annual Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo. Not unlike the first event 62 years ago, people still travel to Rapid City to take in more than 10 days of cattle and horse shows and sales, rodeos and other activities. 

            More than 300 vendors take part in the annual event. The socialization and number of activities draw in many people, who have scheduled their annual vacation to coincide with BHSS. 

            In fact, more than 330,000 people will attend the stock show. 

            “The best thing about the stock show is the diversity,” says Ron Jeffries, general manager of BHSS. “There are events there for everyone to watch and participate in. As times have changed, the events have changed with them, but the cattle show and sale is still the mortar that holds the whole thing together.”

2020 show 

            A pre-show will kick off this year’s BHSS the week of Jan. 19 with an AQHA versatility ranch horse competition, South Dakota Cutting Horse Association show, National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) All-Around show and a Winter Classic AQHA show. 

            The 2020 Black Hills Stock Show two-day horse sale will be held Jan. 30 and 31 at the James Kjerstad Events Center at the Central States Fairgrounds. This sale will feature 179 premier horses from barrel horses, cowhorses, reining and trail riding horses to prospects and roping horses. Friday’s sale will also feature the Ranch Horse Select Sale. 

            Highlights during 2020 will be the Hutchison Western Stallion Row, which is an opportunity for customers to gain more information on different horse breeding programs and visit one-on-one with breeders about their genetic programs. 

            The cattle activities will kick off Feb. 2 with the Boehringer Ingelheim Commercial Heifer Show and Sale. During the week, 10 breeds will hold shows and sales including Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Red Angus, Gelbvieh, Shorthorn, Limousin, Maine-Anjou, Simmental and Chi-Influence. 

            The breed shows will conclude with the announcement of the Supreme Row champion bull and heifer.

            The Cinch Trade show features more than 300 vendors and offers one-stop shopping under one roof. Customers can purchase anything from clothing, boots and tack to corral systems, cattle chutes, portable buildings, pickups and stock trailers. 

            Rodeos and rodeo events are held most days. New to the lineup this year is the Roxor of the Black Hills Wild Bronc Ride. Spectators can watch 12 bronc riders in costume compete in bronc riding in the long-go. The four bronc riders who top the long-go will compete in a short-go. 

            The 2020 Broncs for Breakfast consists of 32 ranch bronc riders “riding as ride can be” for eight seconds. The event is different from rodeo saddle bronc riding because competitors in this event will ride in a stock saddle for the competition. 

            The event will kick off with a biscuits and gravy breakfast, followed by a calcutta and then the main event. 

            Other activities include a western art show and quick draw contest, an animal nursery, the Rodeo Zone, the Black Hills Queen contest, agricultural seminars and a Rodney Yost horsemanship clinic. 

            BHSS also holds a Youth Day, which features a beef cook-off, livestock judging contest, horse quiz bowl, a youth beef show and other events.

            Several years ago, an All-American Sheep Day was added to the stock show. Although it started with the North American Sheep Dog Trials, the National Sheep Shearing Championships and the National Wool Handlers Championships have been successfully added to the annual lineup. 

            This year’s All-American Sheep Day will also feature demonstrations on the Optical Fiber Diameter Technology (OFDA) and its application in the wool industry, as well as a pregnancy testing and ultrasound demonstration in ewes and a loin eye ultrasound technology demonstration. 

            Other activities at Sheep Day include South Dakota Sheep Growers Association (SDSGA) Make it With Wool contestants, a spinners circle, wool combing demonstration and sheep-related booths and retailers. Lamb entrees will be on the menu at food vendor displays and lamb appetizers will be served through a grant from the American Lamb Board and SDSGA.

            Also, a Dakota Territory Buffalo Sale will be held at the James Kjerstad Events Center on Feb. 8.

            For more information about the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo, look them up on facebook or see their website

Gayle Smith is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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