Casey Tibbs Foundation Tribute Banquet |

Casey Tibbs Foundation Tribute Banquet

Yvonne Hollenbeck
for Tri-State Livestock News
Casey Tibbs Foundation/South Dakota Rodeo Center Left to right: Past Rodeo Great: Rocky Tibbs, Rodeo Cowgirl Great: Tabitha Sigman Harris, Rodeo Cowboy Great: Billy Gallino, Rodeo Animal Athlete: Lori Whiting representing her horse “Annie”, Rodeo Promoter: Bernie Duffy and Ranch Cowboy Family: Cliff & Chris Crago Family. Photo by Bob Jeffries

There was lots of laughter, good ol’ cowboy camaraderie, and memories shared by the capacity crowd in attendance at the 26th annual Casey Tibbs Foundation Tribute Dinner held at the Casey Tibbs Cowboy Center at Ft. Pierre on Saturday evening, Nov. 7. This event honors folks who have contributed greatly to the sport of rodeo and to its heritage throughout the region. The honorees are nominated, then narrowed down via a selection committee. Final board approval and is a great honor to the recipients.

Because this is an annual fund raising event for the center, a number of volunteers donate considerably to its production, including Bryan and DeLynn Hanson who prepared the wonderful prime rib dinner; the Pierre/Fort Pierre High School Rodeo Club who did an excellent job serving the meal; Harold Delbridge who handled the emcee duties; and many other individuals who introduced recipients and helped make this a memorable event.

This year’s honorees were:

Tabitha Sigman Harris of Box Elder, Rodeo Cowgirl Great (the 1991 South Dakota State High School Rodeo Queen, the 2004 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Goat Tying Champion, and the 2008 South Dakota Rodeo Association and Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association Goat Tying Champion.

Billy Gallino, formerly of Valentine, Nebraska, Rodeo Cowboy Great, who received multiple championship awards in high school, intercollegiate, amateur associations and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association ranks, not only in timed events but riding events as well, a true all-around hand.

Rocky Tibbs of Ft. Pierre, Past Rodeo Great, winner of six SDRA championships in team roping, a record for that association, as well as multiple championships in the NRCA and national team roping associations. Rocky has been consistently winning championships for over 50 years and continues that feat today.

Rodeo Promotor, Bernie Duffy was a founding board member of the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center and has donated countless hours of legal services related to same. Mr. Duffy has worked tirelessly and contributed greatly to see the legacy of Casey, his childhood and lifetime friend, honored through the establishment and success of the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center and its sponsoring events.

The Cliff and Chris Crago Family of Belle Fourche were honored as this year’s Ranch Cowboy Family due to their ranching success and their active involvement with the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, 4-H and High School Rodeo, and through their Quarter Horse program. The Cragos currently pastor the Praise Fellow Church while son Clay and his family carry on the family ranching tradition.

And the newest and perhaps most prestigious award is the Rodeo Animal Athlete which was awarded to “Annie,” an outstanding barrel horse raised in South Dakota by Mary and Art Cowan, owned by Tim Cowan, and subsequently owned by their niece, Lori Whiting of rural Valentine, Nebraska. Annie and her rider won the Badlands Circuit championship six times, was voted Barrel Horse of the Year six times, and carried her owner all the way to the National Finals Rodeo in 1984. Many rodeos were won by this incredible animal, not only by Lori Whiting but by daughter, Cody Holmes. Annie, the little horse with a big heart, was laid to rest at the age of 30 on the Whiting Ranch near Hidden Timber in 2005.