Local Couple selected to be rodeo promoter for the Casey Tibbs Foundation
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 3:16pm admin
By Jenny Leibel
Each year, the Casey Tibbs Foundation pays tribute to six individuals who have exemplified and contributed to the sport of rodeo in South Dakota. These individuals are nominated into six different categories, based on specific criteria, before going through a selection process. The Casey Tibbs Foundation is pleased to announce the 2020 honorees are as follows: Past Rodeo Great: Bill Myers Sr.; Rodeo Cowgirl Great: Carol Hollers; Rodeo Cowboy Great: Bob Shedeed; Rodeo Promoter: Paul and Brenda Gropper, Long Valley, SD; Ranch Cowboy Family: the Stanley Johnston Family; and Rodeo Animal Athlete: Dillon & Doc, owned by Jim Whiting.
Criteria for nominations in the category of rodeo promoter is as follows: An individual or family who has promoted the sport of rodeo and its success. This individual may or may not have competed in the sport of rodeo. This category include, but is not limited to: announcers, sponsors, and contractors. This year there was over 15 in the Rodeo Promoter Category. Family must currently own and operate a ranch in SD. Someone who has helped the sport of rodeo succeed. Does not have to have competed in the sport of Rodeo (Announcers, Sponsors, Contractors, ETC.) To be honored during the Casey Tibbs Foundation Tribute Dinner, a nomination must be submitted and go through a selection process. The first round of the selection process is review by a committee consisting of twelve individuals from six South Dakota districts. This committee reviews all submissions and selects their top candidates. The top candidates are then passed on to the Casey Tibbs Foundation Board of Directors, who make the final selection of who will be honored that year. When nominated, it was said that the Gropper’s “elevated the South Dakota Rodeo Association to unprecedented levels” during Paul’s time as SDRA President. Paul and Brenda ran the SDRA office for over 15 years. The pair understood rodeo from both a contestant’s and promoter’s point of view, and continue to make every effort to promote the sport of rodeo in South Dakota.
Paul and Brenda Gropper ranch outside of Long Valley. They married in 1976 and have a wonderful family that is part of the rodeo community. Paul and Brenda Gropper have been part of the Rodeo family for a very long time, Paul and Brenda grew up doing rodeo all their life elementary through College. “Rodeo was always a big part of our lives growing up. I am very proud that they are being recognized for all their hard work to makeRodeo better. It has brighten many wonderful people into their lives and working with Make A Wish has been a great joy for them”, stated Renee.
Paul Gropper started rodeo in Little Britches Rodeo, South Dakota Rodeo Association and Northwest Ranch Cowboy Association, he then became Director in 1972 to 1988, then he was elected president in 1988 to 2003. Brenda started central office in 1979 and in 1980 another lady took over until 1988 then Brenda took over again. They decided Finals would be a 3 day rodeo and that Make a Wish would be a sponsor every Saturday night. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a 501 nonprofit organization founded in the United States that helps fulfill the wishes of children with a critical illness between the ages of 21/2 and 17 years old.
When visiting with Paul and Brenda about being selected and honored for being a rodeo promoter, they stated “It feels nice to get the recognition on what we have worked hard on doing. Not just one person would be able to be a rodeo promoter, you need a-lot of people to help out.” The most important thing about being a rodeo promoter is to put on a rodeo to have fans. Fans are the most important for a rodeo. Some might say contestants are but the fans are the money making in the rodeo. Paul and Brenda got a call on the 20th of August saying they were selected to be Rodeo Promoter. They are excited to meet all the Rodeo Promoters and the supporters.
Brenda Groppers’ main job was to have everything organized, when cowboys and cowgirls would call her and ask how they are able to make it to all four rodeos on a weekend, she would make it happen and say go to this rodeo then go to that one and that one and so on. She took all entries for Rodeo performances and worked with the directors to make sure all the events were in the same order at all rodeos that way the contestants could make it to each rodeo when it was busy! Paul mentioned that Brenda never slept between Monday morning to Tuesday night to make the programs for the rodeo and make sure that everything was in order to make the rodeos happen in 3 hours.
Rodeos generally comprise the following events: tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. The events are divided into two basic categories: the rough stock events and the timed events. Depending on sanctioning organization and region, other events such as breakaway roping, goat tying, and pole bending may also be a part of some rodeos. Today, it is a sporting event that involves horses and other livestock, designed to test the skill and speed of the cowboys and cowgirls.
In the years that Paul was president he stated that he started with 150 members and 15 rodeos, their goal was over 500 members and 50 rodeos. They got it up to 500 members and 35 rodeos. The SDRA was one of the first rodeos that was to be on dactronics tv. They performed every year on Keloland.
They got a lot of comments and cards within the years of working in the rodeo association. Benny Butler said, “I cannot believe how fast it went with the all contestants. I talked to Paul one rodeo and saw the program and was like oh my gosh this is gonna last till midnight. Paul explained to me that they take no breaks that the last bull rider should be riding by 10 am if it started at 7 am.” “They are really organized and I am so happy that they got rodeo promoter they deserve it.”
Paul and Brenda Groppers photo and biographies will be added to the permanent “Wall of Fame”, located in the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center. The Rodeo Center will be accepting nominations throughout the year for the 2021 Tribute Dinner. The Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center hosts both a multi-purpose conference center and a historical museum devoted to the legendary sport of South Dakota rodeo. They also display past and present rodeo aspects that range from the Little Britches, 4-H, High School Rodeo, College and beyond.
Paul and Brenda would like to tell anyone that would like to become a rodeo promoter good luck and try to make a lot of friends. Remember that one person cannot do it all so to have friends and family help you when you need their help. Family is everything, they are there when you need someone to be there for you.