The 74th Watertown Winter Farm Show kicked off on Feb. 5 by honoring a farm couple from Raymond who played significant roles in making the show into the success it is today.

Gathered with their children, grandchildren and relatives at the Codington County Extension Complex’s livestock show ring, Rod and Mary Hurlbut were honored by a large crowd and the Watertown Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee for their service stretching back many decades for their involvement in organizing the show and finding ways to improve it.

Among many other things, the Hurlbuts, who served as breed managers for the South Dakota Simmental Association at the farm show for 25 years, were responsible for the development of a central program that kept track of all the cattle breeds present at the farm show. Previously, breeds who appeared all had separate programs, creating a layer of complication.

For as much effort as they have put into the Watertown Winter Farm Show, the Hurlbuts are not ones to take any credit. Indeed, they expressed appreciation on Feb. 5 for being recognized along with their family with a plaque commemorating their service.

“This is really quite an honor for us,” Rod Hurlbut said.

Yet it is a well deserved one for a couple who’ve been coming to the farm show since they were children. For example, Rod’s first farm show memory is of his grandfather buying his first Angus bull for $850 in 1948.

“This has always kind of been the venue that we really enjoyed,” he said.

From the Chamber’s perspective, honoring the Hurlbuts after their many years of service was the right thing to do.

“We’re just so thankful for all that they’ve done,” Chamber Director of Programming Keriann Beadnell said. “We look at how much the catalog has really grown in the years. That was kind of his idea in getting that started. The farm show is such a big project. Having people like the Hurlbuts makes everything run way more smoothly.”

Even with the cold temperatures outside, Beadnell said farm show preparations and kickoff have gone off without a hitch.

“We had good turnout for our couple of classes Tuesday morning and we had a great turnout for the dedication,” she said.

Northeast 4-H Calf Show winners announced

The Northeast 4-H Calf Show was held on Feb. 9, as the last event of the 74th Annual Watertown Winter Farm Show. Twenty-six 4-H youth from Brookings, Clark, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, Kingsbury, Marshall, and Spink counties exhibited 44 head of heifers and steers in the show.

Champion British Breeding Heifer went to Sam Hovde of Clark County and Reserve Champion to Devon Moore of Deuel County. Champion Continental/Commercial Breeding Heifer went to Sam Hovde of Clark County and Reserve Champion to Kylie Beare of Hamlin County. Overall Grand Champion Heifer went to Sam Hovde and Reserve Champion Heifer to Kylie Beare. Champion Market Heifer winner was Sadie VanderWal of Spink County and Reserve Champion was Ryder Olsen from Deuel County. Champion British Market Steer went to Trevor Thue of Hamlin County and Reserve Champion to Mitchell VanderWal, Spink County. Champion Continental/Crossbred Market Steer was given to Kylie Beare of Hamlin County and Reserve Champion to Korbin Leddy, Grant County. The Overall Grand Champion Market Animal went to Kylie Beare and Reserve to Korbin Leddy.

Showmanship was held following the last class. Senior Showmanship Champion was awarded to Ryder Olsen of Deuel County and Reserve Senior Showman was Sadie VanderWal of Spink County. Junior Showmanship Champion was awarded to Regan Ringkob of Marshall County and Reserve Junior Showman was Rylan Thue of Hamlin County. Beginner Showmanship Champion was presented to Emma Caulfield of Clark County and Reserve Beginner Showman was Grayson Nielson of Kingsbury County.

A special beef halter was given to a Showmanship Champion in memory of Jordan Mack by the Watertown Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee. After a drawing, the winner of the halter was Regan Ringkob of Marshall County.

Ending with a solid weekend

A strong end to the Watertown Winter Farm Show last week overcame a shortened day Thursday to keep the event a top draw in Watertown.

After being forced to close the doors to the Watertown Park and Recreation Office and adjacent Codington County Extension Complex two hours early Thursday due to cold and snowy conditions, Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce Event Director Keriann Beadnell said the strong crowds Friday and Saturday pushed the overall attendance north of 20,000 people.

“The event went really smooth,” Beadnell said. “There are always hiccups to big events like this. I think it went really well. A lot of our vendors and producers were happy with the results.”

That happiness came despite the short day Thursday. While that negatively impacted the attendance numbers somewhat, Beadnell theorized the Friday and Saturday numbers were bolstered by a combination of area students enjoying an extended weekend and adults having a day off from work Saturday.

“After closing early for that storm (Thursday), it was good to see people come out Friday and Saturday,” she said. “Especially on the last couple of days, it was always pretty crowded.”

Having just finished her second year of organizing the farm show, Beadnell said Thursday’s closure was the first time a show day closed early in her tenure.

“In my first year last year, we got pretty lucky with weather,” she said. “We obviously didn’t want people driving and risking their lives on nasty roads. That’s kind of where the decision (to close early) came from.”

Judging by the attendance rebound Friday and Saturday, Beadnell believes the farm show offers enough attractions to draw the crowds out in the dead of winter.

“There’s such a variety of stuff going on out there. Our cattle shows and sales draw a lot of the cattle community whether they buy cattle or just watch,” she said. “I think the general public likes going around and talking to the booth vendors. They get to know different businesses in the agriculture industry they may not have before. I know our classes also draw a lot of people.”

After receiving help from Lake Area Technical Institute students in tearing down the decorations, work will soon begin on planning next year’s farm show. That may be a big one as that will mark the 75th annual show.

“I would say expect something bigger and better out of us for next year,” Beadnell said.

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