- Associated Press - Sunday, July 6, 2014

ROCHFORD, S.D. (AP) - Rochford has about 40 residents, but 10 times the population converged on the tiny unincorporated Black Hills community this weekend for the annual Rochford Day barrel races.

“It’s the biggest day in Rochford. Why wouldn’t you be here?” visitor Arlen Sablom said.

Fire departments armed with powerful hoses took aim at a keg hanging on a wire stretched between two poles for Saturday’s festivities, the Rapid City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1r0fQrl ). Each team sprays water at the keg to move it across the wire, and whichever team manages to push the keg to the other side of the pole wins.

The U.S. Forest Service North Zone crew took this year’s coveted trophy.

The post-Independence Day celebration, which also features a horseshoe contest, barbecue and a raffle, doubles as the volunteer fire department’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Firefighter Brenda Hague said all proceeds went toward purchasing medical supplies and covering training costs for the volunteer Rochford Fire Department.

Melanie Bond Cromes, the department’s first assistant fire chief, said an excellent turnout ensures that the department will be able to meet its needs this year.

“It was really busy, and we had lots of people donate,” Bond Cromes said. “The only downside was we didn’t win the barrel race.”

Rochford, on the northwestern edge of Pennington County, enjoyed its best days during the mining boom in the 1870s. By the end of the 20th century, it had just under 45 residents.

Sablom and his wife, Julie, have been coming to the event for years. The Sabloms, who live in a cabin in Piedmont during the summer, say they enjoy the atmosphere, the friendly people and the spectacular Black Hills scenery.

The Rochford Fire District covers 212 square miles, stretching to the Wyoming border. Firefighters say they’re part of a small team covering a pretty large area.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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