100th Black Hills Roundup 60 days away

May 5, 2019

BELLE FOURCHE — With the 100th Black Hills Roundup less than two months away, the Roundup committee is busy putting the final touches on the preparations for its centennial celebration.

“We’re just getting everything pulled together and making sure everything is lined up and ready to go,” Clay Crago, committee chairman, said.

Crago said, as the chairman, his vision for the event’s 100th anniversary, slated to be held July 2-6, is to take the rodeo back to its more western roots.

“The last few years we’ve had dirt bikes and stuff, which was very cool,” he said.

But, he said, this year’s event will reflect more of the traditional rodeo events including chuckwagon races, “kind of more like it’d been back in the day.”

Chuckwagon racing is an equestrian rodeo sport in which drivers in a chuckwagon led by a team of horses race around a track.

“It’s pretty wild,” he said. “He’s (the hired act has) a little four-horse team and a small wagon and two of them go at a time and they race around the arena. They get going pretty darn fast and slide around the corners … that’s pretty cool.”

Another act new to this year’s celebration is Amanda Payne, daughter of John Payne, the “One Armed Bandit.” Payne is slated to perform with longhorns, buffalo, or other livestock and horses. Crago said she hasn’t yet told the committee what her act will consist of.

“She’s keeping us in suspense on it,” he said. “She does a little act with them on the arena and then loads them up on top of her trailer. So that will be pretty darn neat.”

Dana Bowman will return to skydive into the arena for the third year in a row. Bowman is a retired soldier and avid skydiver from Texas, who suffered from a mid-air accident and later became the first double-amputee to reenlist in the military.

Construction of the grandstands to replace the former century-old wooden ones is nearly complete. The new VIP box is an additional benefit where rodeo-goers can now enjoy the show from an all-new vantage point, Crago said.

“It’s pretty darn cool,” he said.

Crago said that front row parking, removable windows for better viewing, box seating, personal bar service, snacks and more will cater to the guests in the special section.

“It’s quite a view from there,” he said.

The VIP tickets for this year’s event are sold out, Crago said.

“It filled up fast,” he said.

Then, on July 4, following the afternoon’s rodeo events, Crago said, the group will be putting on a free concert on Belle Fourche’s State Street with

“So that’s gong to be kind of a cool deal, too,” he said. “We’re hoping to be downtown cranking that up around 6 p.m. we hope.”

Local band Dakota Country will be one of the bands performing at the concert. Kenny Fiddler and the Cowboy Killers and American Aquarium are also scheduled to perform at the event, which Crago said, will go all night and into the evening.

“It’ll be pretty neat to do that,” he said. “And being free, hoping we can get a big turnout to that.”

The Roundup committee is in the process of building a new museum/merchandise building right inside the event gates where visitors will be able to purchase merchandise.

“It’s going to be kind of an old general store look to it … made out of rough cut lumber and a lot of the inside of it will be boards that we saved off the old grandstands,” he said. “So there will be a lot of history in it, too.”

Memorabilia celebrating the event’s centennial anniversary will be sold in the museum and on the rodeo’s website: Blackhillsroundup.com.

The new grandstands have made room for 14 new vendor spaces than in years past.

“It’s always been just a little bit crowded back there for vendors so this year we’re kind of excited to have 14 new spots under there,” Crago said. “It’ll be kind of neat just to get more stuff for people to do (while they enjoy the rodeo events).”

He said there are still some vendor spots available.

This will be Crago’s 10th year volunteering with the Roundup.

Crago, a local rancher, said that although working on and juggling the preparations for the centennial and his life can be overwhelming, it’s been a good experience for him.

“It’s been an awesome experience and I’m glad to be able to have done it right now,” he said.

He’s excited to get going with it the centennial celebrations.

“It’ll be five days of nonstop,” he said. “(Excited to) get started and let it roll.”

Crago said tickets are selling fast online and can also be purchased on the rodeo’s website or at the box office at the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center in Belle Fourche.

“Get your tickets; it’s going to be a good one,” Crago said.

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