SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Foundation hosted its ninth annual Prime Time Gala Saturday night at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
The event is a celebration of the cattle industry, but also serves as one of the largest fundraisers benefiting Feeding South Dakota.
The Prime Time Gala has more than doubled in size since 2014.
“When this thing started there was just a couple board members that got together and thought, you know we need to figure out a way to celebrate the livestock industry, the cattle industry, so it’s grown from two people to a 13-member board, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Foundation Board Member Brian Gilbert said.
Brian Gilbert is part of the Cattlemen’s Foundation Board of Directors. He’s also the Ag Banking Manager at First National Bank in Sioux Falls, working hand-in-hand with producers.
“We want it to just be a time to reflect on all of the hard work that they put in to their industry to help feed the world,” Gilbert said.
“We have roughly 450 pair of cow-calves that we calve twice a year,” Rowena, South Dakota cattle producer Dick Funke said.
Dick Funke is a cow-calf producer near Rowena, South Dakota. He grew up on a dairy farm, but spent 45 years working at Raven Industries in Sioux Falls. He retired seven years ago, and took up cattle full time.
“You can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy. It’s the only thing I can say,” Funke said. “I love it, I mean this is what I do. People ask me that question all the time, why aren’t you out playing golf or doing something like that and I go, because this is what I like,” Funke added.
Funke put up this Hoop Barn about seven years ago to provide a better calving environment and to help expand his operation.
“I’m in the process of working my son-in-law and son into the operation so I can fully retire, instead of just saying I’m retired,” Funke said.
More hands doesn’t always make for less work, but will keep at least one tradition alive.
“Important to me to keep the family farm going. I was raised on a farm, my dad farmed, my grandpa farmed, you can go back in history and that’s all we’ve ever done is farm,” Funke said.
Funke, like many producers, never misses the Prime Time Gala and jokes that one topic dominates the conversation.
“The weather (chuckles),” Funke said.
“We love to come together in support of something, a greater good, which in our case is for Feeding South Dakota,” Gilbert said.
The event has raised about $2 million over the past nine years in support of Feeding South Dakota.
“So it was a perfect fit, we could promote the beef industry while giving food to people that needed it, so it just really was a natural fit for us,” Gilbert said.
“Early on that was one of the challenges that the Cattlemen saw and knew that we needed to increase the amount of animal protein that we were handing out, and so we’re proud to say that with their partnership we’ve been able to double that in the last eight years,” Feeding South Dakota CEO Lori Dykstra said.
Lori Dykstra is CEO of Feeding South Dakota. The Cattlemen’s Foundation has helped the organization distribute more than one-million pounds of beef throughout the state.
“We’re able to put that out through our agencies and our mobiles and that goes into all 66 counties in the state of South Dakota,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra says ground beef is currently the most sought-after item, and understands its importance for families struggling to make ends meet.
“We just hope that we can continue to grow the amount of protein we can put in boxes and continue to get that good beef, iron-rich protein into our boxes each month,” Dykstra said.
Achieving that goal starts with continued support from organizations like the Cattlemen’s Foundation, and Gilbert says they’re happy to keep handing out big checks.
“We feel blessed as a board and we feel blessed as an industry that we can help people in need,” Gilbert said.
The money raised at this year’s event will help feed the more than 190,000 people who receive food through Feeding South Dakota every year.