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40th Corn Palace Stampede provided fun for community

The colorful Ethan Trail Riders were top in the equestrian division at Saturday's Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Parade. This year's theme was "Celebrating 40 Years of Cowboys, Kids and Country." Rodeo officials estimated that 10,000 spectators enjoyed the event. (Ross Dolan/Republic Photo)

Spirits and temperatures were high for Saturday's Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo parade. This year's theme was "Celebrating 40 Years of Cowboys, Kids and Country."

Rodeo committee chairman Jim Mikimins estimated a parade attendance of nearly 10,000 at the yearly event.

"It was wonderful," he said. In addition to fun, the event provided a solid economic boost. Families come to town to enjoy the parade and rodeo and that benefits all Mitchell business, he said.

The parade had 150 official entries, Mikimins said, "but there are always those who show up Saturday morning and ask if they can join the parade. We have an open door policy -- we just add them to the back of the lineup and let them enjoy the fun."

Parade viewers arrived early with folding chairs and sought out the sparse shade.

"It was a great parade to watch," said rodeo committee secretary Geri Luckett, a veteran of 21 rodeos.

"When the music was playing on the floats some of the people were laughing and clapping -- I think it was an excellent parade," she said.

Luckett also commented on the "variety of floats and an excellent balance of horse groups."

The largest equestrian groups were the colorful Ethan Trail Riders and Corn Palace Stampede Drill Team, which took first and second, respectively in the equestrian division.

Children filled the Avera Queen of Peace float, earning that community organization the "Best Use of Theme" title.

Iverson Chrysler won the "All-Around" award, with its humorous homage to country music legends.

Heat and rodeo week go together, Luckett said, and organizers learned to cope through the years.

"One of the best changes we ever made was to take advantage of cooler weather by moving the parade from noon to 10:30 a.m.," she said. "It was a blessing for both the spectators and the animals."

Daytime temperatures topped out at 98 degrees Saturday, but an earlyevening storm knocked down high humidity levels and lowered temperatures for the Saturday night and Sunday events.

The rodeo committee took time to honor some early organizers who returned for the event's 40th anniversary during a small Saturday dinner at the rodeo grounds; among them was longtime committee member Jim Meyer from its earliest days, who retired about a year ago, Miskimins said.

"We enjoyed having Jim and all the other folks come back to enjoy the rodeo and fellowship with us," he said.

Chili camps cooked up between 10 to 15 gallons of the spicy meal shortly after noon on Sunday, but ladles were scraping the bottoms of empty pots about an hour later.

Cooks either guarded special recipes or, like David Tilberg, of the Trail King team, said their crews "added a little bit of everything."

Winning chili cook-off teams were: 1.Verifications; 2. the combined team of the Sweet Shoppe and Klock Werks; and 3. Pheasant Country.

Winners of the best campsite was Graphic Packaging; and the Army National Guard won People's Choice award for the best camp and cook site.