One of the questions organizers of the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally often get is "Where can I get a good steak?"
So, it made perfect sense for the South Dakota Beef Industry Council to answer that question. During the 77th rally, which ended its 10-day run Aug. 13, consumers of all shapes and sizes, ages and origins gained a better understanding of beef through the council's boots-on-the-ground approach to beef education, said the council's executive director Suzy Geppert.
"Beef. It's what's for dinner — that's us," Geppert said.
She said the Beef Industry Council came on board with its Sturgis motorcycle rally sponsorship because they believed the rally was a good venue for them to reach out to nearly half a million consumers.
"We believed Sturgis would give us the prime opportunity to share our story about beef and all the nutritious things that it has to offer consumers," she said.
Part of the sponsorship involved bringing in Girl Carnivore, Kita Roberts.
Roberts, originally from Delaware, is a big meat eater, griller and self-proclaimed meat maven.
She is a food writer and recipe developer who’s knocking down barriers on the food scene and delivering quality carnivorous recipes to aspiring cooks and savory enthusiasts at girlcarnivore.com
During her visit to western South Dakota, Roberts judged the first Sturgis Street Food Throwdown, visited area cattle operations and the South Dakota State University meat lab where different areas of meat science research are conducted.
"It was important to not only incorporate Kita here in the main venue of Sturgis, but also to get her out into the country interacting with some of our ranchers," Geppert said. "I see Kita as a good opportunity to reach a demographic in our metropolitan areas that maybe do not understand how we do things here."
Roberts said it was great to work with the South Dakota Beef Industry Council and to meet one-on-one with producers.
"The fact that they take time out of their busy day to sit and talk with me meant a lot," she said.
One of their stops was the Stone House Saloon west of Belle Fourche.
"We had dinner with some ranch wives. It was wonderful," she said. "I've eaten really, really well since I've been here."
Geppert said it was important for the Beef Industry Council to promote beef in its own backyard.
"We've got 15,000 beef producers here in our state and 3.85 million head of cattle," she said. "We felt that it was important to reach out to Sturgis. It's also a way to thank our producers for all that they do."
The Beef Industry Council received lots of positive feedback from their conversations with rallygoers and producers, Geppert said.
"When the city hung our banners, I started getting phone calls from producers," she said. "Those banners do two things — they are a great way to reach the consumers, but also a great way to thank our producers for all that they do."
In addition to the banners, the Beef Industry Council mingled among the crowds and shared the beef story, Geppert said.
"We really wanted to approach this as 'boots-on-the-ground' thing," she said.
They handed out beef jerky and other marketing items emblazoned with the "beef" name. Geppert said they also thanked vendors who had beef on their menu.
"It's really important to thank those who are chosing your product," she said.
Geppert also thanked producers for their continual contributions to the Beef Checkoff Program. Beef Checkoff is a producer-funded marketing and research program designed to increase domestic and/or international demand for beef. This can be done through promotion, research and new product development, and a variety of other marketing tools.
Geppert said she encourages having producers be part of promotion and marketing of beef.
"They take their cattle to the auction on a regular basis and sell them. For every head they sell, they put $1 in that checkoff. Sometimes its nice to have the producers play a role," she said. "They are part of this team taking beef from production to the consumer. We will continue to find ways to engage them in this process."