FT. PIERRE — A 47-year tradition rides on Aug. 17-19 as the South Dakota 4-H Finals Rodeo brings together some of the most accomplished young cowboys and cowgirls from across the state to compete for top honors at the Stanley County Fairgrounds in Ft. Pierre.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the contestants, their families, and the many who support them to the 47th Annual South Dakota 4-H Finals Rodeo,” said Kasey Hanson, president, South Dakota 4-H Finals Committee. “These exceptional rodeo athletes have worked extremely hard for this opportunity.”
More than 1,300 youth compete in 4-H rodeos throughout the state. Those contestants compete at 35 regional rodeos, where the top four competitors in each event earn the right to showcase their talent at the South Dakota 4-H Finals rodeo. The annual event is one of the largest youth rodeos in the country, with more than 530 contestants ages 8-19 expected to participate this year.
The chute first opened on the South Dakota 4-H Finals in 1971 as a way to gather the best of South Dakota’s 4-H rodeo athletes together to give them the chance to compete against each other — many for the first time. It’s since grown into a three-day event bringing an estimated $1.4M each year to the Pierre/Ft. Pierre economy. Thousands of contestants, family members, fans and rodeo personnel come to take in the Ambassador contest, scholarship interviews and awards, rodeo dance, contestant BBQ, cowboy church services in addition to the four rodeo performances.
“The entire experience affords our youth the chance to excel at our state sport of rodeo, and also really helps them develop an appreciation of our western heritage and lifestyle,” Hanson said. “Likewise, it’s a perfect time for people who just want to come see what rodeo is all about. We invite everyone to come and cheer on these great competitors.”
Festivities kick off on Fri., Aug. 17, with the Ambassador Horsemanship Competition at 7:30 a.m. and the first Rodeo performance at 5 p.m. Sat., Aug. 18, features rodeo performances at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with the Special Needs Rodeo at 2 p.m. Cowboy Church at 8 a.m. opens events Sunday, followed by the Ambassador Crowning at 10 a.m. and the final rodeo performance. You can find a full schedule of events at sd4hrodeo.org.