Thousands Coming To Rapid City For Stock Show, No Masks Required
Western South Dakota came under national scrutiny for hosting the Sturgis motorcycle rally during the pandemic, and now the region is hosting its biggest wintertime gathering.
The Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo brings thousands of visitors to Rapid City for a week's worth of events. There’s the stock show and multiple rodeo performances. There’s a speaker series, art show, trade show and many other things on the packed schedule.
Craig Baltzer is executive director of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. He said canceling the event would be unpopular because of its importance to the economy. And he knows some people think the event is bad for public health.
“You could not possibly win on that argument whether you had the event or cancel,” Baltzer said. “There's no way to win on that one.”
Baltzer said the Civic Center is taking its cue from local and state government. There are no mandates to cancel the event. There’s no local or state mandate for the public to wear masks in the Civic Center, either, so masks are not required for attendees.
Baltzer said the Civic Center staff wears masks. They’ll also have masks and hand-sanitizer stations available for the public. During the rodeo, portions of the arena will be set aside for social distancing.
Some stock show events are at the Central States Fairgrounds, owned by Pennington County. General Manager Ron Jeffries said little is changing there. Registration tables will offer hand sanitizer.
“As of now, we're not aware of any mandates that are coming from any level of government,” Jeffries said. “We do recognize that there are transmission issues with this virus, and we encourage everyone to take all precautions personally to make sure that you're safe.”
The stock show is Friday through Feb. 6.
On the other side of the state, the Sioux Falls Farm Show started Wednesday and runs through Friday at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Masks are required there by city ordinance.
South Dakota has had more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 1,700 deaths.