Monte Lucas has been named the BHSS Silver Spur Award recipient.
Monte Lucas has been named the BHSS Silver Spur Award recipient.


By Codi Vallery-Mills

The socializing and glamour that comes with the annual Black Hills Stock Show Stockman’s Banquet and Ball won’t be anything new to Monte Lucas and his wife Laurie on Jan. 26. They’ve been to each one for 20 plus years. But what will be new is when Monte receives this year’s Silver Spur Hall of Fame award that night. 

For four decades, Lucas has been involved in agricultural events in the Rapid City, S.D. area. It started with the Western Junior Livestock show where he volunteered and later would be on the board. Then on to the Central States Fair board, which oversees the Black Hills Stock Show, where he first was involved in the livestock committee and then as president of the board. 

Through a combination of things – his childhood as a ranch kid from Reliance, S.D. along with his livestock judging days under coach Dan Gee at South Dakota State University – made him the right fit for the agricultural events.  

He looks back at his time with the livestock committee and recognizes the change in cattle over the years. 

“The percentage of red meat that is being produced off a beef today has to be of a much higher quality. Today we have cattle that are more efficient and that is all through genetic advancements. We are producing a lot of red meat with a lot fewer people raising them,” he says.

Lucas later took on roles with the youth events held during the BHSS. He is most proud of the World Smallest Rodeo where kids of all walks of life can participate in a stick horse rodeo and the Cattleman’s Legacy Heifer donation project where one youth is granted a heifer to raise.

“Those are the kinds of things that really stick out to me about my involvement. Early on it was the livestock events and later on it has been supporting the youth activities,” Lucas says. “It’s all been great.”

Second Largest Event

The Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo is the second largest event the state of South Dakota has. Second only to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. 

“The Black Hills Stock Show has exploded. When we ended up outgrowing the Civic Center for new projects and when we were able to start at the fairgrounds with more it just got so big. It’s now the second largest event in the state of South Dakota. Which gives you an idea of how it has grown immensely,” Lucas says.

The growth continues to have a large economic impact on Rapid City during a time when seasonally hotels are empty and restaurants are slow. 

In the early years of the BHSS, Lucas says the ag markets fluctuating had an impact on how many rodeos or hotel stays people would pay for. A bad commodity year would be reflected in a little less spending at the BHSS.

Today, Lucas would argue, the people attending stock show events from a production ag background is much fewer than the non-ag people that attend. For instance, his grandchildren who are not farm and ranch raised get treated to BHSS events once or twice a week.  It’s important to Lucas that they are exposed to agriculture, the horses, the cattle and all that goes with it. And he says much of the urban public around Rapid City is drawn to the BHSS for the same reasons. “The non-ag people are the ones that are really supporting it. The stock show is never ending with people that want to come in and watch events. I think it’s a big deal to recognize that.”

Rural Relations

While it may be true that non-farm and ranch people are a driving force behind the BHSS, Lucas says the rural population and support can’t be denied. And those are the faces that he scans the crowd for each year while attending BHSS. 

“The socializing is my favorite part. The opportunity to visit under one roof or two. That is by far the biggest benefit. Way back when, people would maybe come in and go to three or four nights of rodeo, now they maybe go to one night but they stay and they will be the first people in the cafeteria having coffee, standing around visiting and it’s a social thing for them. It’s their mini vacation. When I grew up people went to Denver a lot. People don’t travel that far anymore. They can come right here, get that same feel and be closer to come. It’s a real social thing for them,” he says.

As a banker at First Interstate Bank, the BHSS is a great business opportunity as well. “You don’t do the one-on-one banking during the stock show but you do relationship banking where you visit with them as you see them around the stock show and get caught up on life,” Lucas says.

Valuing Volunteers

The BHSS is put on every year with the help of hundreds of volunteers. While that isn’t unique to any one stock show, Lucas says the volunteers of the BHSS are the best. “Someone will volunteer to do this, someone will volunteer to announce, someone else pitches in here and pretty soon everything is taken care of. The volunteers make it possible to have such a fantastic event like BHSS.  It’s the volunteers that make the entertainment that people like to come to happen.”

Lucas could easily be counted in the great lineup of BHSS volunteers who are giving of their times and talents for the support of something greater. When he was told he was the 2019 Silver Spur Award recipient because of his longtime support of the BHSS he was surprised. 

“It’s humbling. I never expected anything like this . . . I’m just involved. It’s a good group that is being honored and I’m humbled,” Lucas says.

At this year’s Stockman’s Banquet & Ball he and Laurie will be joined by their three daughters and eight grandchildren. A great way to start their time at the 2019 Black Hills Stock Show.

The Stockman’s Banquet & Ball will be held Jan. 26 at the Ramkota hotel in Rapid City.