Mike Schmidt, left, the general manager of Northeast Area Horse Racing, and Shane Kramme, general manager of Verendrye Benevolent Association horse racing.

By Stephen Lee

In a day-long event for the state’s horse people, the 2018 annual meeting and Awards Banquet of the South Dakota Horseman’s Association is Saturday, December 8, in the Pat Duffy Community Center, 19 E. Main, in downtown Fort Pierre.

The event will end with a big dance with a well-known band as part of a fundraising effort to keep horse-racing alive in the community.

Lack of state funding threatens the future of horse racing in the state, Kramme said. A long term decline in pari-mutuel betting across the state, part of a national decrease, has cut the traditional revenue source for horse racing in the state. The past two years, the state gaming commission has allocated about $170,000 to the Verendrye Benevolent Association to fund two weekends of horse racing in Fort Pierre. It was questionable if horse racing would take place in 2018.

Earlier this year, the Horseman’s Association, the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse Racing groups donated approximately $15,000 to the Verendrye Benevolent Association, the nonprofit that sponsors horse racing at the Stanley County Fairgrounds in Fort Pierre. Of this, $7,500 was passed on to Northeast Area Horse Racing to help finance racing in Brown County. This past spring, there was racing again on two weekends, with dozens of horses and horse-owners using the barns for the month preceding the races as a way to tune up for the summer season of racing across the region.

Horses are important factor in South Dakota agriculture - for rodeo, ranching and raising. The Horseman’s Association is made up of people who are interested in the production of horses for all purposes.

Kramme and many others are working to rejuvenate S.D. horse racing which has taken place since 1948, said Shane Kramme. He is a leading advocate for S.D. horse racing, along with many others working for the horse industry. He has been the starter at both tracks. He is set to manage the track and the races in Ft. Pierre, if the race take place in 2019.

The South Dakota Quarter Horse Racing Association will hold its annual membership meeting at 10:00 a.m.. The South Dakota Thoroughbred Association will hold its annual membership meeting at 1:00 p.m. And, the Horseman’s Association will hold its annual meeting at 3:00 p.m.

The awards banquet begins with a social hour at 6:00 p.m., with a prime rib dinner served at 6:30 p.m., and awards and speeches beginning about 7:15 p.m. Danny Hall & The Joe Creek Band will begin performing their music about 9:30 p.m.

The band and dance are open to the public, with tickets at $20 per person at the door. A cash bar is provided.

Shane Kramme, Fort Pierre, is one of many organizers of the event. Kramme hopes to be managing the Fort Pierre horse racing track in its eighth decade next spring - it started in 1948. Kramme said the hope is that a big crowd comes out for the dance. The entire day’s proceeds will go toward supporting South Dakota horse racing, he said.

It is not clear yet if there will be sufficient funding from the state for racing next spring in both Fort Pierre and Aberdeen, Kramme told the Capital Journal. So, all other forms of funding from the public will be welcome, he said.

Kramme hopes that similar public support can help again. He has said he hopes that the cities of Fort Pierre and Pierre continue to be involved in supporting what he says is a large economic gain for the two cities as well as the entire state. From providing a market for farmers’ hay to drawing people in for the racing, the tradition of horse racing in Fort Pierre deserves support, he said.

Kramme said that in the 1990s, state officials began moving funds from the racing revenues to other parts of state government and that those funds should be returned to fund racing.

For now, the question if there will be racing next spring in Fort Pierre remains unanswered. Kramme hopes a big turnout on Dec. 8 at the Pat Duffy Community Center will make a big difference.


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