NFR send-off brings athletes and fans to Belle Fourche
Rodeo fans and athletes alike descended upon Belle Fourche, SD last Saturday for the big send off celebration as our local cowboys and cowgirls prepare to go for the gold buckle in Las Vegas. The Branding Iron Steak House hosted the event again this year. Thanks to a large addition to the building, there was more room to accommodate the crowd of rodeo supporters.
“Several people try to have these events but Belle Fourche really knows how to pull it off,” says Jim Thompson of Spearfish, SD. “The crowd comes, the cowboys come and it’s always a great time.” A man with so many titles to his credit it would be impossible to mention, Thompson also added that the Round Up committee did a great job with the event.
Several athletes came a long distance to attend the event and sign autographs. Among the NFR contestants present were JJ Elshere, Chad Ferley, Dusty Hausauer, Steven Dent and Jill Moody. Several former NFR qualifiers and world champions were also in attendance.
“We just want to thank everyone for coming to this year’s event and for their support,” said Round Up Committee chairman, Gabby Bush. “Plans are already in the works for next year and we are excited about several upcoming events pertaining to the Black Hills Roundup.”
Many of the people in attendance enjoyed a steak with their family before the festivities. Following a good meal, people migrated to the other side of the building to listen to Master of Ceremonies Rory Lemmel as he interviewed the athletes who were in attendance. Following the interviews, rodeo fans were able to visit one-on-one with the NFR qualifiers at the autograph table.
“We had a real good turn out again this year,” said incoming Round Up committee chairman Scott Reder. “It was good to see some of the younger kids that came to get autographs. Some of them had pictures of themselves riding a calf or steer and wanted the cowboys to sign them. It makes it personal and those kids will now watch their heroes on TV and will be able to say, ‘I met him or her.'”
As with every year around the second week of December, there will be a mass exodus from this region with Vegas in the headlights. The NFR is an electric time of year whether we stay up late to catch the performances on television or are lucky enough to get to see them in person.
“We always have a good turn out for the event in Belle Fourche,” said Rory Lemmel. “It makes the athletes so accessible to the fans and the people from the region. Rodeo isn’t like the NFL or other professional athletics. These guys and gals don’t have big heads and they appreciate the fact that people spend their hard earned money to come and see them. I’ve had several cowboys say that the biggest thrill of being at the NFR is when they announce someone from South Dakota and the crowd goes crazy because there are so many folks from this region who go to support them.”
This is certain to be another exciting year for the Tri-State region at the NFR considering the caliber of athletes who will be there to represent us. Best wishes to all who will be competing or attending the 2008 NFR.