Jim and Janet Hurlbut; Dustin, Jeana and Bayler Hurlbut and Rod and Mary Hurlbut of Raymond, S.D. Rod and Mary have been selected as this year’s Watertown Winter Farm Show honorees for their longtime dedication to the show.
Jim and Janet Hurlbut; Dustin, Jeana and Bayler Hurlbut and Rod and Mary Hurlbut of Raymond, S.D. Rod and Mary have been selected as this year’s Watertown Winter Farm Show honorees for their longtime dedication to the show.

By Twila Schmitt


The Watertown Winter Farm Show has been “a way of life” for Rod and Mary Hurlbut of Raymond, S.D., for as long as they can remember.

“We would load up the family and come to Watertown for five days,” said Mary. “It was our winter vacation,” added Rod.

For 25 years, the couple served as breed managers for the S.D. Simmental Association at the Watertown Winter Farm Show. This year, the Hurlbuts will have the distinction of being honored at the 2019 Watertown Winter Farm Show.

“Chuck (Langner) said he needed to stop by and ask me a few questions for the Ag Committee,” Rod recalled with his hearty laugh so well-known around the Codington County Extension Complex. “When he got there, he just cut to the chase and told us we’d been selected for this honor.”

“I was in shock. But she said we’d accept.”

That’s the way Rod and Mary work together.

The Watertown Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee, which organizes the Watertown Winter Farm Show, annually honors an individual or family who has spent years contributing to its success by dedicating the farm show to their name.

This year, the honor goes to Rod and Mary Hurlbut.

Rod and Mary grew up near each other – he, on a farm near Raymond, and she, a “city kid” in Clark. During an especially dry year, Rod took a job driving truck and often stopped for coffee at the cafe owned by Mary’s mom. This May, they will celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary.

While Mary was new to the farm, Rod’s farming roots reach back through multiple generations. He remembers attending the Watertown Winter Farm show with his father and his grandfather.

“My dad bought his first Angus bull for $850 back in 1948,” he recalled. “Times have certainly changed.”

Last year’s top-selling Angus bull went for $7,000.

The 74th Watertown Winter Farm show is scheduled for February 5-9, 2019.

During their years as breed managers, the Hurlbuts have seen many positive changes at the Watertown Winter Farm Show.

While reluctant to “take credit,” Rod says today’s printed program came about after a suggestion he offered to the Ag Committee.

“Prior to that, all the breeds did their own catalogs. It was so much to keep track of,” he said. “This complete program works so much better than everyone having to produce their own.”

Hurlbuts were also on hand as Watertown Winter Farm Show’s Supreme Row debuted. They speak highly of the many Ag Committee members who have worked hard to secure great sponsors year after year.

“Rod was never afraid to call and bend my ear,” said Chuck Langner, a long-time Ag Committee member. “Good or bad, we always appreciated his feedback.”

During the decades they have been involved in the Watertown Winter Farm Show, the number of farm show days has been trimmed and livestock shows and sale schedules have been switched around.

“Life is so fast. Everyone’s time is limited, so things have been compacted – but it’s working,” said Rod.

Tim Sheehan, president and CEO of the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce, said attending the Watertown Winter Farm Show has become a tradition for many area families – and the Hurlbut family is a shining example.

“It’s an honor to recognize these longstanding friends of the Watertown Winter Farm Show,” he said.

The Watertown Winter Farm Show continues to be a family affair as Rod and Mary’s three grown children and seven grandchildren are all actively involved.

And now that they are free from the breed manager responsibilities, they will have more time to enjoy other aspects of the

farm show.

“It’s been our way of life,” said Rod, who along with Mary owns and operates RMH Livestock. (That’s Rod-Mary-Hurlbut Livestock, for anyone who has to ask.)

As the 74th Annual Watertown Winter Farm Show approaches, Rod and Mary say they have nothing but good memories about the weeks they have spent together there.

“It was a lot of work, but always fun,” said Mary.