Sports: Beer garden new to rodeo; aimed at younger audience
It's hard to gauge the exact age demographic for the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo. All kinds of people attend the annual summer event -- from senior citizens to teenagers. The one area the local rodeo committee wants to improve is the attendance of...
It's hard to gauge the exact age demographic for the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo.
All kinds of people attend the annual summer event -- from senior citizens to teenagers. The one area the local rodeo committee wants to improve is the attendance of a prime demographic: people from the ages of 21-35.
In hopes of drawing that more diverse audience, rodeo organizers this year will put up a beer garden tent at the rodeo grounds.
The garden will be located south of the main entrance on the west side of the grounds. Only people 21 years or older will be allowed into the garden and each person will have to purchase a wrist band to buy alcohol.
With the addition of the garden and a live band this year at the rodeo, rodeo committee chairman Lance Carson said the goal in mind was to bring in a younger crowd to the rodeo grounds.
"There's that 21-35-year-old age group that we feel we've been missing," Carson said. "We feel like having a beer garden and a band out there would entice them more. We've looked at what some other rodeos have done and they've been successful with something like this. We thought we'd give it a try."
The Jimmy River Band will be playing in the garden. The local rock trio will start playing at 6 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday and will play up until the actual rodeo performances begin at 8 p.m. After the rodeo has concluded each night, the band will play again for another hour or two, according to rodeo committee member Dave Sietsema.
"The band will play essentially up until the rodeo and until an hour or two after," he said. "I think we hoped having the beer garden would appeal to the younger audience and give people the opportunity to socialize prior to the performances. Most of the time, fans show up early and put their blankets down to save their spots in the bleachers. Once people get there now, they'll have a central spot to socialize and get something to eat and drink."
Sietsema said the band won't interfere with the performance of the rodeo band, the Company Cowboys. The trio out of Wessington Springs has been playing the Corn Palace Stampede for a number of years.
"We don't want two bands going at the same time and we're very mindful of that and the people in the stands," Sietsema said. "You don't want the fans' ears to compete with two different sets of speakers."
Carson said the attendance at the rodeo has been steady for the past decade.
"It's been holding about the same," he said. "It's not at its biggest peak, though. There is some room for improvement."
Sietsema thinks having the beer garden will also help control the flow of traffic that comes out of the rodeo grounds every night. Usually, it's a slow trip back onto Highway 37 after the performances have concluded for the evening.
"Keeping people a little longer will help with the traffic," he said. "If we keep the beer garden open, it will lessen that big lineup of cars. People can come over and have a sandwich and pop before they go home for the night."