AGCO, through its brands Hesston by Massey Ferguson and Massey Ferguson, has been a proud sponsor of the Professional Rodeo Committee Association (PRCA) for many years. In 2017, the company developed the Sowing Good Deeds program to highlight rodeo committees that go above and beyond in their charitable endeavors, making positive impacts in their local ag communities.
This year, Burke Stampede Rodeo Committee of Burke, South Dakota, was named the 2021 Sowing Good Deeds winner. As part of the prize package, Bill and Renee Sutton, two of the founding members of the rodeo committee, traveled to Las Vegas earlier this month to accept the award from Matt LeCroy, Director, Marketing Hay and Forage for Massey Ferguson North America, during the annual PRCA Awards Banquet. The organization is also working with their local Massey Ferguson dealer, Butte Implement Company of Butte, Nebraska, to take delivery of a brand-new MF 4700 Series with a loader later this month.
For a small organization — just a dozen or so core members — going eight seconds on the toughest bull seemed easier than winning the grand prize against more established PRCA rodeo committees. In fact, the list of 2021 finalists included multiple centennial rodeos with long histories of service to their respective communities. But recognizing the impact a committee-owned tractor would make in achieving their goal of providing top-notch rodeo opportunities for youth in their community, the organization threw its hat in the ring — and walked away a winner.
30 Years of History
In 1989, members of Burke’s agricultural community came together to organize the first Burke Stampede Rodeo. Like many rural communities in the Dakotas, the rodeo was combined with a street dance and other family-friendly activities to bring the community together in celebration. It also acted as a large-scale economic event for the town of 600, tripling the population one weekend a year.
As the annual rodeo took root, the committee worked to expand rodeo opportunities for local youth. Today the Burke Riding Club hosts a high school, 4-H and junior rodeo, as well as a 4-H horse show and several play nights for youth ages 2-14 in addition to the three-day, PRCA-sanctioned rodeo. These events serve hundreds of local youth and their families, providing a safe, family-friendly environment for participation and education. It takes a buy in from the entire town, though. In addition to the rodeo committee’s core leadership, dozens of local volunteers selflessly offer their time, energy and resources to help put on these events. For a single night of the PRCA event, the Burke Stampede Rodeo Committee requires the help of nearly 60 individuals to cover everything from parking to stock handling.
Dedicated to Local Ag
To repay the hard work of friends and neighbors during rodeo season, the Burke Stampede Rodeo Committee members take an active role in their community. The group’s dedication to ag education can be seen in several 2021 initiatives centered around local youth. Committee member Mollie Andrews, a local educator, launched Gregory County’s first FFA chapter last year. The chapter currently serves 26 students from the Burke and Gregory schools. Andrews and other rodeo committee members worked to raise more than $8,500 for supplies, uniforms and conference attendance to make the chapter’s inaugural year a success for students. Rodeo committee members Sara Grim in conjunction with the Burke Cattlewomen have also been instrumental players in establishing South Dakota’s first ranch-to-school program. This program donates local beef for service in school cafeterias, providing students with nutritious meals while also helping them understand their connection to the local ag industry.
Additionally, members of the rodeo committee have played an important role in the community’s recovery. In August 2019, a tornado ripped through the heart of Burke, causing significant damage to homes, businesses and community buildings. A significant portion of the school was destroyed just before classes were to start. The community center was also destroyed, and the city lost more than a thousand trees.
In the days after the disaster, residents of Burke came together to clean up and start the recovery process. Rodeo committee members, including Burke Riding Club President Billie Sutton, led the charge to build back better as part of the Burke Long Term Recovery Group, working to secure funding for residents in need and coordinating recovery efforts with service groups.
The community has mostly recovered in the two years since the tornado. However, the Recovery Group continues to allocate funds for community improvement projects — including re-planting trees and making updates to public spaces throughout the community.
The First PRCA Rodeo
2019 was also the year the Burke Stampede Rodeo Committee began the transition from a South Dakota Rodeo Association event to a PRCA-sanctioned one, with 2020 slated to be their first rodeo. However, between recovery efforts and the pandemic, the organization decided to cancel 2020 events and shift focus to making a big splash in 2021 instead.
The organization doubled their ask from the community, securing $60,000 in sponsorships from mostly local business to host their largest rodeo to date. The three-day event hosted 403 athletes in 8 events. About 5,000 visitors attended the event, which coincided with other community festivities to provide a fun-filled family weekend that benefited Burke organizations and businesses.
Continuing To Build
The future looks bright for the Burke Stampede Rodeo as the committee builds on the success of 2021 and begins to organize projects for their MF 4700 Series tractor. The Sowing Good Deeds grand prize provides flexibility and ample power to make improvement to the rodeo arena. Previously, the organization relied on the goodwill of local dealers and community members to secure a tractor for events. Having their own equipment means one less worry during a hectic rodeo season. Additionally, the tractor’s tight turning radius and excellent maneuverability make it a great option for raking and working the arena, while the durable construction and ease-of use promise to provide decades of dependability.
To learn more about this tough, heavy-duty utility tractor, contact your local Massey Ferguson dealer today.
The Burke Stampede Rodeo Committee invites everyone to join them July 15-17 in Burke, South Dakota, for the 2022 PRCA Burke Stampede Rodeo!