Logic behind Roundup change perplexing
Published: Thursday, October 18th, 2012
A news release from the governor’s office in last week’s newspaper stated the 2013 annual Buffalo Roundup day in Custer State Park would be changed from Monday to Friday. At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be a big deal, but we see unintended consequences that could be damaging to our delicate fall shoulder season in the Southern Black Hills.
The news release written by the governor’s press secretary Joe Kafka simply said, “We’ve decided to hold the roundup on a Friday next year. While attendance has been good, we’d like to see even more people come.” The “we” in “We’ve decided” apparently is the governor’s office, departments of tourism and economic development and S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department.
It isn’t so much the change in days that’s perplexing as the manner in which this decision was made. Apparently nobody in the nearby roundup tourism industry was consulted, nor were any Southern Black Hills chambers of commerce. Rumors of the day change started circulating roundup weekend and official word came some time later.
The governor’s office news release further states, “We’re always trying to make more of a splash with the Roundup, and we hope this will help us build on past successes.” As far as we can tell, there is not much more that can be done to accommodate more spectators at the actual buffalo roundup by the corrals in the southern part of the park. The two viewing areas are limited by the hilly terrain that attracted another 14,000 plus spectators again.
The most perplexing part of the news release stated moving the Roundup to Friday could prove popular from a convenience standpoint. “With the Roundup on a Friday, most people would not have to go back to work the next day,” Kafka said. Convenience for whom? Friday is still a regular work day for most people. Those coming here from any distance would have to take Thursday as a travel day to get here in time for the early morning roundup.
Then there are the unintended consequences of a diminished arts and crafts festival held the Saturday and Sunday of the roundup weekend. Those attending the early Friday morning roundup may well take off for home after viewing that event, instead of staying around for the arts and crafts festival on Saturday and Sunday.
At least one Southern Black Hills chamber exec has said changing the roundup day may well result in many fewer motel rooms being booked for that weekend. Normally, people would stay in nearby communities for the weekend activities in anticipation of the annual roundup on Monday. Now they may simply leave after the main event is over on Friday morning.
The two-day arts and crafts festival was added to roundup activities 18 years ago on the 75th anniversary of Custer State Park. It has served as a buildup to the actual roundup day on Monday. Anticipation of the main event has been a great marketing tool ever since the arts and crafts festival was begun. Reversing the schedule of events would seem to be anti- climatic as far as the arts and crafts festival is concerned. When it started in 1994 there were 15 booths. Last month there were over 10 times that number, over 150 arts and crafts booths.
With such a track record of success, why would anyone want to try to fix something that is not broken? It appears to some that the change was made simply to free up the weekend for those attending the roundup. If that is the case, it was a poorly thought out decision that quite possibly could have adverse economic consequences for area tourism businesses.
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