Mobridge’s Sitting Bull Stampede celebrating 75 years
It was born in 1945 at the ranch of Dr. A.W. Spiry, near Mobridge, South Dakota. With the help of Jack McNelly and Carl Arck, the stock was gathered for steer wrestling, calf roping, bareback and saddle broncs. Automobiles made up the arena “fence.” The Sitting Bulls Stampede has seen a few changes since this inaugural event.
In 1946, the rodeo was moved to the location northeast of town and an estimated 14,000 spectators crammed into the grandstands that had been moved in from the Selby Fairgrounds. The first rodeo parade was held in 1947, and the family attraction has been improved upon every year, with special attractions such as harness racing, trick riders, clown acts and liberty horses being featured over the years.
The success and quality of the rodeo has drawn in the top rodeo hands going down the road, and still does today. From those auspicious beginnings, the Sitting Bull Stampede has thrived and become known as the place to be for rodeo and other events for 75 years.
Mobridge, South Dakota, located along the beautiful Missouri River offers exceptional scenery, great fishing, sightseeing, and during the annual Sitting Bull Stampede and Rodeo, family and class reunions, and more.
Darrell Schlepp, president of the foundation responsible for improvements to the facilities, says “ We’ve been doing some major projects over the last few years. Last year we put the new grandstand in, and a good sound system, plus addressed drainage on the grounds. This year we have put in new restroom facilities, a ticket booth building and entry way to the rodeo grounds.”
Schlepp has been involved with the Sitting Bull Stampede for about 40 years and is justifiably proud of the event they offer. “This is a big occasion for our town and since it’s the 75th, we’ve added some exciting events to the lineup, such as the Indian Relay Races and Wild Horse Race. The Sutton Rodeo family is bringing their great stock again and since Jim Sutton is being inducted into the PRCA Hall of Fame this year, the Sutton Family is being honored as parade marshalls for the parades on July 3rd and 4th. They have four generations of Suttons coming and that’s pretty nice.”
On June 28, traffic will be stopped when the wild horse race horses are trailed across the Missouri River bridge while spectators line the roadway. “It can get kind of exciting as they are genuinely wild horses off the Reservation,” says Schlepp.
The Indian Relay Races, an exciting combination of racehorses and fabulous riders and handlers, will be June 30 and July 1. It’s the opening meet of the Tour of Champions. Weninger says “Pat Thortenson has been working on the racetrack ground for weeks and it looks really good.”
There will also be Wild Horse Races on those dates, bringing in the tough racing teams from the region, pitted against truly unhandled horses.
Rose Weninger, President of the rodeo committee, added “We are so thrilled to have Dana Bowman coming for the rodeo. We’ve wanted to get him here for several years and are so excited that he could be here this year.” Bowman, a Marine combat double amputee, sky dives into the rodeo arena with a 40 foot American flag and it’s never allowed to touch the ground, as volunteers hold the edges and protect its integrity.
Before the rodeo performances, there will be the parade in the morning, and adding to the parade will be the 50 flags of the U.S.A. being carried horseback in the July 3 parade. “I think that’s going to be just wonderful,” says Weninger.
“There will be powwow dancers and drum groups from 6-7 p.m. before the rodeo performances,” says Weninger.
The rodeo announcer is Scott Grover, who has announced at WNFR as well. The contract act for the “half time show” will be the Cowboy Kenny Motorcycle Steel Tour, which will take your breath away with the gravity defying feats of motorcycle handling.
Rounding out the arena events will be the fan favorite Mutton Busters, pitted against the woolliest broncs of the sheep world.
There will also be live music concerts, dances and a myriad of other events happening during the celebration.
“We’re working with the state to make sure this event is on track and doing the right things, and we hope that everyone will come and celebrate with us,” says Schlepp.
Weninger says “I would like to welcome everyone from everywhere to come to our 75th Annual Sitting Bull Stampede and Rodeo! This is a great place to bring your family to enjoy all the events we are offering, plus it’s a tradition for everyone to come home for the reunions and to celebrate with us. Let’s unite and celebrate our nation!”
The celebration will run from June 30 through July 4.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News