Corporate Cultivators: Amanda Kammerer, Event Planner and Marketer
By M.P. Cremer
Growing up around livestock shows got Amanda Kammerer pretty far. As is the case with many ag kids, she learned the value of hard work, became proficient in problem solving and connected with livestock connoisseurs like herself to create long-lasting relationships. However, unlike most ag kids, Kammerer didn’t put her show boots away after her final time in the ring as a showman. She capitalized on her experience and became the marketing livestock director for the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo (BHSS) and Central States Fair in South Dakota.
“Up here, for us, stock shows are big,” Kammerer said. “It’s similar to a convention, we bring people together – vendors, livestock producers and community members, and allow showmen to compete by showing off the livestock they’ve raised to be judged and awarded. I love it because you can get some different people all together in one place.”
Kammerer said this pull towards people, on top of her childhood experience as a showman, landed her a job right out of college. After graduating with an animal science degree from South Dakota State University, she offered her time to a friend to help with cattle show entries and wound up staying for seven more years.
“It was a lot of fun the first year, but what made me stay was the relationships I made along the way,” Kammerer said. “I started on the cattle side, but then I moved into a marketing position where I did website updates and social media. This was interesting because it was new and different. Later on, I expanded into a role with the horse sale as well, where I made connections with consigners and buyers who came back year after year.”
At the peak of her career with the BHSS and Central States Fair, a typical day at the office for Kammerer could be broken down into two segments: event time and off-season.
Kammerer said during off-season, meaning the months not surrounding her events, her team would manage venue rental of the fairgrounds for rodeos, barrel racings, garage sales, moving auctions, you name it. She would update the websites and social media for the BHSS and Central States Fair and work on consignment forms – this aspect of her job became busier surrounding the months before her events.
“During the event, it’s just crazy busy, and you put in long hours,” Kammerer added. “But the end result is worth it.”
According to Indeed.com, event planners could be responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with vendors and venues; planning event details and aspects including seating, dining and guests; creating reliable financial reports and collecting payments on time; remaining under budget with all costs; managing events and addressing potential problems; planning for potential scenarios impacting the integrity of the event; and maintaining a working knowledge of the complex needs of a wide variety of events. Kammerer did all of this and then some, and planning stock shows and rodeos takes your typical event planning a step further by factoring in animals.
“As far as the actual event planning side of it goes, I think my job was pretty similar to any other event planner. You have steps you follow and people you rely on,” Kammerer said. “The only difference on the ag planning side of things is you’re working with animals. Animals don’t speak, they can’t tell us their needs, they may get fussy, and you have to be a little more patient.”
Speaking to the animal aspect of it all, Kammerer added her favorite part of her job was a tie between the horse sale and putting on the youth stock show.
“When I started, I was just there to help. I was almost anybody’s helper in the office, so I did a little bit of vendors, livestock, marketing and helped with the horse sale,” Kammerer said. “But about five years ago, the person who was overseeing the horse sale left her position. At the time, I was the only one in the office with an ag background and was asked if I could take on the horse sale.”
And take it on she did. Within the past three years, the horse sale went from making $1.2 million, to $1.8 million, to 2022 earning $2.6 million in revenue.
On top of her success in managing the horse sale, Kammerer created the youth show at the BHSS, from the ground up.
“Three years ago, I started a youth show, and each year it just continued to outgrow itself,” Kammerer stated. “We went from a one-day show to a two-day show, then to a three-day show, and it just keeps growing. Two years ago, we added sheep and goats to the mix, and we actually had to move locations on the show this year [because it was so big].”
Kammerer added seeing the growth of “her baby” [meaning the youth show] along with the connections she made with youth showmen and their families was something she treasures.
Another interesting aspect of her job, according to Kammerer, was planning entertainment during the stock show and state fair.
“Some of the artists are super easygoing, you know, no big deal, whatever. And then the next might have high security and have more restrictions with the audience and their fans. What’s funny is you don’t know what kind of level your favorite artist is at with security,” Kammerer laughed.
She reminisced about how some artists and bands she worked with were relaxed and went with the flow. For example, Kammerer said, Cody Johnson’s band and Old Dominion were both very low key – so low key, she drove them around. “They’re just humans like the rest of us,” Kammerer said, like a true event planner who deals with major celebrities on a regular basis would.
Although a job in event planning can be fun at times, it’s often met with challenges. Kammerer said one of those challenges was customer service.
“If you got somebody not happy with the ticket they bought, they didn’t realize what it was they were buying or if they were just mad for whatever reason – this was probably the hardest at times. Trying to calm them down and fix the problem, saying, ‘We’ll come up with a different idea or a solution.’ You know, the customer’s always right,” Kammerer stated.
On top of this, Kammerer and the marketing team had to deal with a few anti-ag activists during her time with the BHSS and Central States Fair. Specifically, during the sheep dog trails one year, a sheep shearing contest was going on at the same time. A few animal rights activists made a ruckus.
“It was really an easy fix,” Kammerer said. “We had the information to back up the benefits to sheep shearing and all we had to do was educate – it was something no one could argue.”
On a lighter note, Kammerer boasted the most rewarding part of her job is working with the youth showmen.
“I could see the same kid from seven years ago grow up in the show ring, and they got better as a showman with more experience. Getting to work with the youth and their families has been incredibly rewarding, and seeing their growth over the years just makes it all worth it,” Kammerer concluded.
After seven years with the BHSS and Central States Fair, Amanda Kammerer is giving her event planning career a rest. Speaking for Kammerer here: watching her legacy live on through the success of the horse sale and the expansion on the youth show will make her career even more worth it as time goes on.