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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Saddle bronc riding event
Billy Etbauer competes in saddle bronc riding event Photo: Dave Sietsema

Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo and the Corn Palace

Taking place in Mitchell, South Dakota, every year since 1971, the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo has served as a cultural icon in the state by blending traditional rodeo events with facets of contemporary life. Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PCRA), the four-day annual event attracts over 12,000 rodeo fans from across the United States each year. The rodeo's contestants, from all over the United States and Canada, participate in such events as bareback bronc riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wresting, team roping, barrel racing, and bull riding. In addition to the rodeo contests, there is western music, a rodeo queen competition, parade chili cook-off, rodeo mixer, golf tournament, mutton bustin' for the children, performances by the Stampede Drill Team and a "Bull Bash," a one-day spin-off event consisting of bull riding, clowns, bull fighters, barrel men and barrel racing. Proceeds from the "Bull Bash" are donated to Mitchell-area charitable organizations. Every year since 1979, the Corn Palace Stampede belt buckle has become a tradition; these brass buckles, depicting various rodeo events, are numbered each year and have a brief history of the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo engraved on the back.

The Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo derives its name from the Corn Palace building. Built in 1892, the original Corn Palace, called "The Corn Belt Exposition" was used to display, in order to demonstrate the fertility of the state's soil, the products of the harvest of South Dakota's farmers in a mural on the exterior of the building. Each mural depicts an important facet of South Dakota living. These murals require thousands of bushels of corn, grain, grasses, wild oats, brome grass, blue grass, rye, straw and wheat each year. The exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created annually. Hosting stage shows as well as sports events in its arena, the Corn Palace serves as a multi-use center for the community and region. The "World's Only Corn Palace" is a structure which stands as a tribute to the agricultural heritage of South Dakota.

Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Parade passes the Corn Palace in 1973.
The Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Parade passes the Corn Palace, 1973 Photo courtesy Stampede Rodeo Committee

Included in the project's documentation are twenty-nine 8 x 10 photographs and accompanying descriptions, a written report with sections on the history of the rodeo, the PRCA, a history of the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo, its cowboys and events, a listing of the champions of each event from every year of the rodeo, rodeo announcers, clowns, barrelmen and bull fighters. Other sections trace the history of the rodeo's music, queens, parades, chili cookoffs, golf classics, parade marshals, and awards earned by the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo. Newspaper and magazine coverage over the years and a videotape are included.

Originally submitted by: John R. Thune, Representative (At Large).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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