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A meeting in a local laundromat led to the beginnings of Stock Show
News Staff - January 8, 2018

RAPID CITY, SD - In 1958, members of the Rapid City Chamber Ag Committee and area ranchers had a meeting at Rapid City Laundry to discuss a plan for the future– an idea that would incorporate rural lifestyles into the urban community of Rapid City. It was at that laundromat the first plans for the Black Hills Winter Show were formed.

Driving that meeting was a long-held belief by area ranchers that the region had become a seat of outstanding genetics in both seed stock and commercial herds.  Among the first recipients of the Black Hills Stock Show Silver Spur Award, Calvin Blair (deceased) of the Black Hills Hereford Ranch near Piedmont, SD , recalled load after load of cattle on the trains heading to Chicago, consistently topping the market.  He would also reflect on trips to what was then the most prestigious livestock show in the upper United States, the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO.

 “I would walk up and down those allies and see nothing better than what we had at home. Sure, it was a big deal to show at the National Western but I – and others - was also sure that a line up of equal and superior genetics were right in our own back yard.”

  At that time, roughly 12% of the population lived on farms or ranches. The concern – even at that time - was that ranchers would be an endangered species as many were leaving the land. But in the Black Hills region – and in Rapid City, SD specifically – many who pulled up roots from the prairies, put them down in businesses that catered to both rural and community consumers.  Names like Eddie Rypkema, Ep Howe, Ken Kirkeby, and Bud Duhamel joined with names like Kent Robertson, Dick Taylor, Calvin Blair, Don Norman, and F.M. (Morrie) Jensen.

The first Black Hills Winter Show was held in 1959 in the Central States Fairground’s Soule Building. A total of 91 head of livestock entered in three breeds; Angus, Hereford, and Shorthorn.  Ranchers from around the region entered to showcase  livestock in a unique show and sale format that went beyond the show halter and put money in consignor’s pockets; and began to grow the genetic reputation of the region.   

The show was a testament to community support of the livestock industry. Multiple events were held throughout town such as a fashion show at the Arrowhead Country Club, sixteen vendors in the Alfalfa Palace, and a cattleman’s pancake feed at a downtown restaurant, in addition to the livestock shows.

Businesses donated supplies and resources to support the event. Ellsworth Air Force Base supplied engine heaters to heat the cold Soule Building during the shows – where outside, ice hung from leads and gates (and sometimes cattle) as producers readied entries to show.

The event was a success. The following year there were 112 head of cattle exhibited with 54 Herefords averaging $591.34.  It continued to grow year after year. The breed publication for Shorthorn cattle - the Shorthorn World - predicted the future by writing, “…The Black Hills Winer Show is going to grow because it is held in cattle country.” 



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