SDBIC hosts Sturgis Beef Throw Down
Each year, the Sturgis motorcycle rally attracts hundreds of thousands of people. The 10-day event is an economic powerhouse for the state of South Dakota, bringing in $786 million in 2018, according to Daniel Ainslie, Sturgis city manager.
With this increased traffic comes an opportunity to reach a large crowd, and the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) made sure the state’s cattlemen and women were well-represented at the event.
SDBIC has had a presence at the rally for three years now, but 2019 marked the first ever Sturgis Beef Throw Down. The Beef Throw Down offered participants the chance to travel through the Black Hills on an exciting journey with 10 stops along the trail.
At each stop, restaurants crafted a signature dish featuring beef to serve to tourists and cyclists. Destination locations included Red Rock, Wall; The Knuckle, Sturgis; The Loud American, Sturgis; T-Grille, Deadwood; FLYT, Deadwood; Country Side Grill, Rapid City; Verterx Sky Bar/Paddy O’Neill’s, Rapid City; Sliders Bar & Grill, Rapid City; Alpine Inn, Hill City; and Baker’s Bakery & Cafe, Custer.
“The Sturgis Beef Throw Down was not only a great way for rally goers to get out and eat some great-tasting beef in the many restaurants that participated, but it was also a great way to get out and see The Black Hills and Badlands as they traveled to each of these restaurants,” said Gary Deering, a rancher from Hereford, S.D. “Many people believe cattle live in confinement their whole lives, but getting out and seeing the wide open space that South Dakota provides to four million cattle shows how cattlemen and women care for not only the cattle they raise, but the resources that are required to keep the cattle industry efficient and alive for generations to come, while providing a healthy product for consumers to enjoy.”
Travelers were encouraged to collect stamps on a passport as they visited each restaurant. If they stopped at three destinations during the rally, they were entered to win prizes, including $500 in Beef Bucks, from SDBIC.
To up the ante, each chef at the participating restaurants competed for a grand prize, which included a trophy, bragging rights and the opportunity to be part of the SDBIC Beef Team a the Sanford International PGA in September.
Justin Warner, Food Network celebrity chef, was on site for the Sturgis rally and worked alongside South Dakota beef producers to judge the beef entrees.
“I am in the City of Presidents (a.k.a. Rapid City),” said Warner, on Instagram, where his followers exceed 50,000 fans. “I have partnered with South Dakota Beef, and we are working alongside the Sturgis Rally Events Team to host the Sturgis Beef Throw Down. What that means is I’ll be sampling the best beef in the area and crowning a champion. Put on your helmets and chaps, but not too tight because there will be a lot of good stuff to eat. Meet me in Sturgis at the rally!”
Beef was the “official meat of the 79th Sturgis motorcycle rally,” and the Beef Throw Down had plenty of people talking and enjoying juicy burgers and steaks a long the trail.
“We have been partnering with the Sturgis Rally and Events team for the past three years, and we are always looking for ways to increase our impact,” said Suzy Geppert, SDBIC executive director. “We wanted to find a way to build the hype for beef throughout the Black Hills, and we thought the Beef Throw Down would be a great way to feature beef at some excellent restaurants while also showcasing the rural, ranching communities in the area to truly share our pasture-to-plate story.”
The event, Geppert said, truly tied the community together as it required the collaboration of restaurants, chefs, producers and consumers to make it a successful Beef Throw Down.
“As part of the Beef Throw Down, we tied in a producer meet-and-greet at Mount Rushmore Angus in Hermosa,” said Geppert. “In addition to a ranch tour, Chef Warner did a steak cooking demo on site. The event attracted 70-80 area producers. Warner was able to answer a lot of questions and talk about consumer trends while our producers are able to give him insights about beef production. Greg Hanes, Cattlemen’s Beef Board CEO, was also in attendance, and it was a great way to give our producers a voice and to engage with the Beef Checkoff program to see it at work firsthand.”
At the end of the rally, Chef Warner declared Alpine Inn’s “Steak Diane Sandwich” as the winner of the first Sturgis Beef Throw Down. The dish was created by Clark Braun, Alpine Inn chef. The dish featured thinly sliced beef filet tips seared on the grill, served on a Ciabatta bun and topped with mushrooms. In judging the contest, Warner was joined by Deering and fellow rancher, Les Shaw of White Owl, S.D.
As the rally comes to a close for another year, the SDBIC is gearing up for fall promotions, including the Sanford International PGA, Andy’s Road Race at the South Dakota State Fair, South Dakota State University’s Beef Bowl, University of South Dakota’s Dakota Days and many holiday promotions, just to name a few.
On Sept. 30, the SDBIC board of directors will meet for its annual board meeting in Pierre.
“We extend an invite to our state’s beef producers to join us at the Red Rosa in Pierre for our meeting,” said Geppert. “We want to hear from them and welcome them too this meeting as we talk about projects and lay out the budget for the upcoming year. If they want to know where their checkoff dollar is going, this is the place to follow along and ask questions. We are your state beef council, and we want to represent you to the best of our ability and use checkoff funds in the most effective manner possible. To do that, we must recognize opportu-nities for outreach and evaluate and measure the impact of our projects to ensure effective-ness.”
For more information about the SDBIC and the Beef Checkoff Program, visit http://www.sdbeef.org.