Stirling Family Memorial Ranch Rodeo Sept. 20 |

Stirling Family Memorial Ranch Rodeo Sept. 20

Kids can participate in the family chores event at the Stirling Family Ranch Rodeo to be held in Ft. Pierre. Photo courtesy Stirling Family

The 17th Annual Stirling Family Memorial Ranch Rodeo will be held Sept. 20, 2014, at the Stanley County Fairgrounds, Ft. Pierre, S.D.

The Stirling Family Memorial Ranch Rodeo, Highmore, S.D., began in October 1998, originally called the Dick Stirling Memorial Team Penning. Dick Stirling was a lifelong South Dakota rancher, rodeo supporter and family man, and he and his wife Nancy raised eight children in the ranching and rural tradition. Dick lost his battle with lung cancer Oct. 10, 1997. To honor his legacy and touch the lives of other people whose lives were affected by cancer Dick’s family decided a team penning was the perfect way to honor the man’s life.

So, the team penning came to be in 1998, with great success and substantial money raised. In 2006, in the throes of a drought, cattle numbers were down and a team penning was going to be difficult to manage. So, rather than not have the fundraiser, they changed events and the first Dick Stirling Family Memorial Ranch Rodeo was held.

In 2012, the family decided to grow the ranch rodeo and fundraiser so it could have a bigger impact on those they were trying to aid. The event was moved to the Stanley County Fairgrounds in Ft. Pierre and renamed the Stirling Family Memorial Ranch Rodeo.

Carrie Kelly, Cheyenne, a daughter of Dick Stirling, says “The ranch rodeo is a time for the eight of us and Mom to come together and work as a team. We all live in different areas of the country, so we have regular conference calls to plan and organize the rodeo. Then on the Friday before, we gather and put all the pieces together. We have a lot of fun doing it.”

Since that first team penning in 1998, the event has raised over $25,000 and aided 133 families who have been directly touched by cancer. In the ensuing 17 years, the Stirling family has lost other family members to the disease and watched others fight it. Their commitment to the fundraiser and having it a fun family event is stronger than ever as a result. “The money that is given to the families has no earmark placed on it. They can use it however they need to, whether it’s for travel or for something special for the family. We understand what they’re going through and just want them to be able to use it however they want,” says Kelly.

This year’s ranch rodeo will have Calf Branding, Pair Sorting, Wild Cow Milking and Ranch Bronc Riding, plus the action packed Family Chore Time event. Featuring different events, the long go will start at 11 a.m. with all the teams, then at 5 p.m. there will be a BBQ, and at 6 p.m. the calcutta and the short go with the top 10 teams. Also at the evening performance will be a Wild Pony Race and Mutton Busting.

The event has a 50 percent payout and all proceeds benefit the Cancer Warriors fund.

There is a 20 team limit with an entry fee of $240 per four person team. Each team must have at least one woman or one youth under 16. The Wild Pony Race will have eight teams, 10-14 years old, with a $60 entry fee. The Mutton Busting will be a first come first serve event for 25 little mutton busters 60 pounds and under. The entries are due by Sept. 10. For entry information, call Sandy at 605-551-5516 or 605-870-2472 or Brett at 605-473-5115 or 605-794-8503. Entries can be done on-line on the website at


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