It didn’t take long for some critter-based excitement on Friday at the Central States Fair.
A longhorn bull, part of the inaugural Regional Longhorn Measuring Competition, broke away from the livestock show arena and wandered the fairgrounds for a time.
The animal had apparently been rounded up before the fair's official opening at 3 p.m. Such unplanned happenings are all part of any summer agricultural exposition, said Fair board president John Kerstiens.
“It takes all hands on deck, and sometimes our animal friends have to help us out,” he said.
The Central States Fair and Range Days Rodeo kicked off its 10-day run Friday at the Central States Fairgrounds in Rapid City, with events already underway prior to Friday’s grand opening ceremonies and opening of Carnival Americana on the Midway.
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The 74th annual fair, continuing through Sunday, Aug. 25, is Rapid City’s big end of summer celebration, said general manager Ron Jeffries.
“This is one last chance for kids to have some fun before going back to school, a chance for families to have a local vacation, a very family-affordable vacation right here in Rapid City,” Jeffries said.
“And we’re just excited to bring so many events and activities,” he said.
One of the new events, the longhorn cattle measuring competition, is in preparation for Saturday's sale, with another show on Sunday.
Entries for the sale have been received from as far away as Texas, Jeffries said.
And on the midway, Rob and Vanessa Powles of Piedmont watched their nieces, Jada and Talia Backes of Black Hawk, play a skee-ball horse-racing game Friday afternoon as crowds began to build.
Jada’s horse prevailed in a runaway. “I won a giraffe,” she said, holding up her stuffed prize.
“We usually take our nieces for a day each week and this is their day,” Vanessa said.
“We like the concerts and the rodeos, so we always get the passes,” Rod said.
Pass-holders like the Powles will be well-entertained this week with a full slate of grandstand events.
Grandstand events opened with Friday’s Supercross motorcycle races, with the always popular Mountain States Ford Dealers Demolition Derby on Saturday night.
Country-rock music headliner Big & Rich, with Tris Munsick and the Innocents opening, will start an impressive slate of grandstand concerts on Sunday night.
“They’re wildly popular in this area of the Black Hills,” Jeffries said, of Big & Rich. “They put on such a phenomenal show. We were very fortunate to land them.”
The concert series continues Monday with country music chart-topper Chris Janson, with Clare Dunn opening, and wraps up Tuesday with Chase Rice, with hit-laden albums “Lambs & Lions” and “Ignite the Night” and North Carolina-based Parmalee.
All grandstand shows start at 7 p.m., Jeffries said.
Wednesday starts the first of three days of PRCA Range Days Rodeo action over the next four nights, with top Badlands Circuit cowboys and cowgirls competing in eight events — saddle bronc, bareback, bull riding, calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, breakaway roping, and barrel racing
Thursday night, however, is another first for the fair and Rapid City, the Inaugural PRCA Xtreme Broncs Finals, pitting 24 of the top 27 bronc riders in the nation.
The prize money available at the Rapid City event is expected to impact the PRCA bronc standings going into December’s National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
The Rapid City event will be recorded for later broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.
Open Class exhibits will be judged on Friday and open to the public on Saturday. Open Class divisions cover the range of individual creativity, from horticultural and culinary skills to art work, woodworking and needlecraft.
Ribbon-winners earn cash premiums for their works with the Fair awarding an estimated $15,000 annual to Open Class exhibitors.
Livestock and small animal shows run all through fair week.
Free daily entertainment abounds with Midco Stage and Soule Family Stage shows this year with Double Vision … Twin Magic and Comedy, The Magic of Keith Raymond, The Potter Family Show, The Rock Bottom Boys and Chris Mabrey, Hypnotist among the many entertainers.
The Coors Tent features many local and regional bands seen during local summer nights festivals around the Black Hills, including Zeona Road, the Kelly McDonald Band, Dirty Word and Brandon Jones, Jeffries said.
Kerstiens said earlier this year the fair board adopted a new mission statement: We showcase agriculture, tourism and our community.
“I think we’ve totally lived up to that,” Kerstiens said. “It’s going to be one of the most exciting fairs that I’ve been a part of.”
Check the full schedule of events and times at centralstatesfair.com/events.