A warm summer night on Memorial Day, May 28, set the tone for a fun evening at Huset's Speedway, as race fans gathered for the 7th seventh annual Beef Night at the Races, a promotional event sponsored by the South Dakota Cattlemen's Auxiliary and the South Dakota beef checkoff program.
The night was full of action with fast cars and flying mud. As the red checkered flag waved the start of the race, the line for ribeye sandwiches and cheeseburgers was as long as the track itself. Auxiliary members distributed 700 tickets for free ribeye sandwiches and cheeseburgers, celebrating America's favorite protein, beef.
Each year, the Auxiliary partners with Huset's Speedway and KXRB radio announcer Mark Tassler to promote beef throughout May Beef Month. Tassler works to promote beef, not just at beef night, but on the radio, through a beef billboard at Huset's and through beef advertisements.
In addition to free burgers, the Auxiliary offered free admission for those who purchased $10 Beef Bucks at the gate. In addition, drawings for several $100 Beef Bucks VISA cards were awarded through a 50-50 raffle at the races. Kids were offered stickers, pencils, candy, beef sticks and race flags to help celebrate the event. A drawing for children's book, "Levi's Lost Calf," and necklaces by Cowgirl Crush were also given away at intermission.
Auxiliary members in attendance included Sue and Mike Sibson; Calli Pritchard, Miss James River Valley; Courtney and Kaley Nolz, South Dakota Beef Ambassadors; Eileen Moller; Nancy Montross; and Julie and Greg Feldhaus. Agriculture columnist Jim Woster also sang the National Anthem.
"We hope to raise awareness of the beef industry and stimulate the purchase of beef through this event," said Julie Feldhaus, Auxiliary president. "We included ribeye sandwiches in our giveaway because we wanted to feature a different retail cut."
Following the anthem and invocation, Courtney Nolz, Pritchard and Woster were interviewed in front of 7,000 race fans in attendance, giving them the opportunity to promote beef as part of a healthy lifestyle and discuss cattle production as an important part of the state's economy.
"As I prepare for the Miss South Dakota contest, beef keeps me healthy and fit," Pritchard told race fans in her interview. "Beef gives me zip - zinc, iron and protein."
Following the event, Auxiliary members discussed the effectiveness of this promotion.
"Beef Up the Races fits well with the beef industry," added Sibson. "I feel that as a cattle producer, we are reaching an urban audience that will always support us. Each year new race fans attend Beef Night. That is why this project continues to grow every year. Mark Tassler and Huset's Speedway owners continue to work with the Auxiliary in making this a memorable beef event."
This year's beef event reached a record number of spectators, according to Tassler.
"Beef Night at Huset's Speedway this year was a very successful event in every sense of the word," said Tassler. "With 116 race cars on hand, we had the largest field of racers on hand in 10 years at Huset's. With 7,000 fans in the grandstand, we set a record for a Memorial Day event at the track," Tassler said. "Then with all the promotions we had going on for beef, it was hands down a big boost for the beef industry. When you hold an event on the biggest day of the year for beef consumption with that large of a crowd and feed them hamburgers, ribeye sandwiches and beef sticks, plus pump them full of information for over five hours informing them how good beef is, as well as how important the beef industry is for our economy, you are destined to make a lasting impression on many people."
Thanks to South Dakota beef producers and the beef checkoff program, residents in the Sioux Falls area were treated to a night of fun, fast cars, great-tasting beef and cattle ranchers.