Boots, Bulls and Barrels: Rodeo in the Black Hills

Rodeo is so popular in South Dakota it was named the official state sport in 2003. Rodeo competitions are an exciting way to take part in the state’s culture.

Popular rodeo events are steer wrestling, bull riding, bareback riding, and barrel racing. For steer wrestling, a cowboy chases a steer on horseback and jumps from the horse to the steer and wrestles it to the ground by grabbing its horns. Bull riding, one of the most iconic rodeo events, is when the cowboy attempts to stay on a bucking bull’s back. For bareback bronc riding, a cowboy attempts to stay mounted on a bucking horse using only one hand. Barrel racers race around barrels to try to get the fastest time.

In the excitement, it is sometimes forgotten by spectators that rodeo is a true sport. Participants go to local and state rodeos to earn money to qualify for the (NFR) National Finals Rodeo. To become professionals, participants must purchase a permit from the PRCA. In the year following the permit purchase, a cowboy must make at least $1000 in winnings to become a “card holder”. Card holders are given preference at rodeos. If the money isn’t made in a year, the process starts over again and a new permit must be issued.

Embrace the western culture and attend a rodeo nearest you!


Black Hills Roundup, Belle Fourche

For over eight decades, Belle Fourche has hosted the Black Hills Roundup along the Belle Fourche River. The rodeo features the nation’s best riders competing in barrel racing, steer roping, bronc riding, and more. There will be a barbecue, week-long carnival, two nights of fireworks, a mile-long parade, and the Miss Rodeo South Dakota contest.

The roundup is held annually in early July.

Wild West Wednesday Rodeo, Rapid City

Each weekly held rodeo will include saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, and bull riding. Bring the kids for a full hour of mutton busting before the rodeo. There will be a BBQ and beer garden for the adults.

This rodeo is hosted by Hart Ranch and held from mid-July through late August.

Deadwood Days of ‘76, Deadwood

Hosted by Sutton Rodeo, this rodeo event has bareback bronc riding, barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and team roping. Deadwood was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in July 2011 and is the 13-time winner of the Badlands Circuit Rodeo of the Year Award.

The Deadwood Days of ‘76 Rodeo is held in the Days of ‘76 Museum Campground in later July.

Mount Rushmore Rodeo, Hill City

The Mount Rushmore Rodeo has barrel racing, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, team roping, kids mutton bustin’, and activities before each rodeo. Saddle up for an exciting Wild West experience!

The Mount Rushmore Rodeo is held at Palmer Gulch in Hill City throughout the summer.

Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo, Rapid City

Over $20,000 worth of prizes is awarded to riders in teams of four at the Ranch Rodeo. Events include steer loading, in which contestants load stock cattle into a trail in the center of the arena; range doctoring, in which teams must sort out cattle, herd them, and give them a simulated vaccine; stray gathering, in which the team of horseback riders must rope up two steers; and wild bronc riding, in which a rider must last for six seconds.

This rodeo is at the Central States Fairground in Rapid City in late January.