What do you do with 80 loads of dirt and 160 tons of woodchips? Hold the annual Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo®, of course! Before competitors can face off in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Barnett Arena, a team of twenty men will dedicate an entire week to the event’s setup. Together they work to ensure the arena is ready for one of our region’s largest showcases of competition, livestock, and premier entertainment.
For Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Trades Technician Steve Burgad, the week-long setup has become second nature. In fact, maintenance staff has been able to streamline the process, piggybacking off the prior week’s Extreme Indoor Enduro event. The motocross competition provides an ideal head start into the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo®, as staff is able to reuse dirt that riders competed on the week before.
Just how much dirt are we talking? Burgad reports that 80 loads of dirt are hauled into the north end of Barnett Arena, as well as another 12 to 15 loads in Rushmore Hall. There will also be an additional half dozen loads of gravel used, and approximately 120 sheets of plywood and 160 tons of woodchips.
Preparing the dirt in Barnett Arena will take a crew of eight men working two days straight. Another two days will be spent completing steel work and the setup of livestock chutes inside the arena. Once those tasks are complete, two more days will be devoted to the outdoor setup of panels that will separate bulls, bucking horses, steer, and calves in a complex system of chutes and gates. In total, eight different chutes will be constructed outdoors to ensure all livestock are kept safe and separated.
However, preparing Barnett Arena isn’t all about work. Burgad has countless stories of his experience working the event, with one of his favorites involving a vain, rogue buffalo. “Five years ago, we had the buffalo sale,” Burgad recounts. “This one buffalo got out of the sale ring, and actually went into the shower room. There was this big mirror in there, and he spent three hours just looking at himself. He stayed calm, and we were able to set up pens and eventually get him back out with the rest of the buffalo. Turns out, he didn’t do any damage, just looked in the mirror the whole time.”
Curious buffalo aside, the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo® is continuously celebrated for its seamless preparation and successful execution. The event brings together some of the industry’s finest athletes and personnel, providing quality family entertainment to the entire region. “We think this is one of the best events in the upper Midwest,” says Burgad. “We want to maintain that ranking, so everyone works extremely hard to do that. We expect record numbers again, and encourage everyone to come out and enjoy all of the events.”
As Burgad notes, there will be no shortage of events taking place at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center during the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo®. From PRCA Rodeo to cattle and horse events, steer wrestling, timed event slack, and 20x Extreme High School Rodeo, staff look forward to preparing for another showcase of the region’s most anticipated events.