ROYAL WRANGLER: S.D. woman assists rodeo queens at Black Hills Stock Show
for Tri-State Livestock News
If there’s a job to be done, you can count on Jerry Luckett to be there to do it.
Especially if it involves rodeo.
The Mitchell, South Dakota, woman spends her days in front of a classroom at Dakota Wesleyan University, teaching business administration, her evenings managing the Mitchell Recreation Center, volunteering, a week in July helping with the Corn Palace PRCA Rodeo, and, last week she was in Rapid City at the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo®.
Her main job at the stock show is as “queen wrangler,” coordinating interviews, school and civic visits, and appearances for the dozen or so state queens who come to town for the stock show and rodeo. She sets their schedules and makes sure the queens have transportation to their appearances. During the rodeo, she can be found at the announcer’s stand, helping with sponsor cards and relaying messages to the announcers.
The state rodeo queens at the rodeo in Rapid City do everything from making school visits, to appearing at VIP events, various booths around the Civic Center, and riding in the grand entry. Jerry’s job is to make sure each girl gets where she needs to be at what time. It’s work she relishes; as a former Miss Rodeo South Dakota, she understands the role and what needs to be done.
Luckett, who was born in Rapid City and grew up in Mitchell, remembers that horses were her passion. She didn’t participate in many after-school activities because of that. “I was the one who, after school, went home and rode my horses. I had lots of friends, but I wanted to ride.” After serving as Miss Rodeo South Dakota in 1975, she raised two boys and two girls, and remembers the good friends she made through their participation in rodeo. “If, by chance, I couldn’t be (at a rodeo), there were other parents who were. You never worried because there was always another family to take care of (your kids).”
Any spare time she has at the Stock Show and Rodeo she spends in the office helping the Sutton family, who produces the rodeo. As associate professor of business of administration, Jerry teaches a sports promotion and marketing class, and her experiences working on the rodeo are invaluable. “It’s a real world experience. I bring so much of that information back to the classroom. We get away from the textbook and talk.” She tells students, “This is really what happens when you’re putting on a million-dollar event,” like the rodeo.
If that weren’t enough, Luckett is a volunteer member of Mitchell’s pro rodeo, the Corn Palace Stampede, held the third weekend in July. She’s been the secretary for the committee for the past 25 years. “If there’s a rodeo, I’m always willing to go,” she says. “That’s my passion.”
And she loves her work at Dakota Wesleyan. “I get to come to work,” she says, “I don’t HAVE to come to work. It’s awesome.” Her students and colleagues joke that she “bleeds blue,” the school’s color. “I try to attend all the athletic events there, too.”
One of the best things about working the Stock Show and Rodeo is the people she works with. She’ll work alongside announcers Justin McKee and Wayne Brooks, and in the office with Kim Sutton, her daughter Amy Sutton Muller, Courtney Schaefer, and others. “You have these people you look forward to spending time with. They’re your support system, and you’re they’re support system.”
She loves rodeo. “Rodeo has its own personality. In rodeo, you compete for you, but as soon as you come off that horse, you’re helping another competitor, hazing, or pulling their rope. It’s that mindset and mentality. We’re truly a rodeo family.”
Queens at this year’s Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo include Miss Rodeo South Dakota Kendra Peterson, Miss Rodeo North Dakota Dani Taylor, Junior Miss Rodeo South Dakota Martina Loobey, South Dakota High School Rodeo Queen Shaelynne Heitsch, and other queens from Nebraska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Iowa.