- Associated Press - Monday, August 4, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - In its 45-year history, the Central South Dakota 4-H Rodeo has become known for being the launch pad for some of the sport’s best competitors.

This year’s Fort Pierre regional 4-H rodeo, on Aug. 2 and 3, was set to see 238 competitors, feature 20 different events in two arenas at the Stanley County Fairgrounds and could be the proving ground for future rodeo greats, the Pierre Capital Journal (http://bit.ly/1zqtTtZ ) reported.

Competitors were to participate in events ranging from calf roping, barrel racing and bronco riding to bull riding. In one of four age divisions.

Regina Melvin Maier, this year’s rodeo chairperson, invited everyone out to see lots of kinds of animals, kids and parents working together.

“It’s a group effort and I just can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday and Sunday,” Maier said. “There’s not a lot of things in this world that are free anymore.”

Started in 1969, the rodeo was the “brainchild” of several locals who continue to be involved with the help of younger generations, according to volunteer Diana Melvin, daughter-in-law of Delores Melvin, 82, who helped make the rodeo a reality.

The way Diana sees it, Delores was the “backbone” for the start-up of the event, the one who kept everyone motivated.

The rodeo for Diana is a unique opportunity for kids to develop lifelong friends in a competitive, yet supportive atmosphere. It also serves as a way to develop a strong work ethic and a reason to reach for goals in their lives.

“It’s just heartwarming to see that people are willing, the business community, parents, volunteers,” Diana Melvin said. “People who don’t even have kids come volunteer because it is a very unique opportunity for kids to excel and grow in confidence.”

Diana Melvin’s son, Jace Melvin, competed in the rodeo when he was younger and has gone on to compete at the college level while participating in the professional rodeos, as well. He planned to help the younger kids in this year’s events, along with others who will return for the rodeo.

Barrel racer Jill Moody, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier and two-time World National Finals Rodeo average champion, is just one of the many notables whose early careers involved 4-H rodeos.

Moody has never quit living her dream and she said 4-H rodeos were her outlet, since she did not grow up in a ranching family.

She said she found a group of kids she could relate to through 4-H and her parents were supportive enough to take her to horse shows and rodeos.

“When I got my first horse, then the only avenue there really was for me, knowing absolutely nothing as a child, except for the little pony rides I got to take and the riding lessons I took out of town, about the only avenue was the 4-H association here and the county association,” Moody said. “It kind of was my own little group of kids, you know, that I could relate to because they were all kind of horse-crazy.”

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, http://www.capjournal.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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