In the beginning…
The Roughrider Commission (RRC) was founded in April 1970 and began as a committee of the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce (Chamber). The new committee was given the responsibility of organizing a citywide Independence Day Celebration. The group began its humble beginning working tirelessly to organize the first three-day event including rodeo performances, parade and demolition derby. The celebration was a hit as rodeo fans were entertained by some of the best cowboys and cowgirls at the PRCA Rodeo performances. Clowns, bands, floats and more wound their way throughout the city putting smiles on everyone’s face! The demolition derby was a hit, as well. With engines roaring and the sound of cars smashing the demolition derby was definitely a crowd pleaser, too!
With $20,000 of debt from the first celebration, but a vision for the future, the committee forged on and became a nonprofit corporation in December of that same year.
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The celebration continued to grow each year and by late 1970 it had grown into a four-day event. By the late 1990’s the once humble three-day event had become a week-long celebration with over 10,000 visitors annually and having a tremendous economic impact on the area, as well.
On March 18, 2002, the Roughrider Commission agreed to work cooperatively with the Stark County Fair Association to transform the festival into a county fair. Thus, the celebration name was changed to Roughrider Days Fair and Expo.
With a changed focus and a vision to grow the search for new events began. Groups and organizations such as the Extension Service, Southwest Speedway, Dickinson State University, Dakota Drag Racing Association and Western Wellness Foundation were solicited for support and Roughrider Days Fair and Expo was born!
In 2005, the Stark County Fair Board agreed to hire a part-time staff person to reduce the workload and expectations on the volunteers. As the event grew so did the demand for more space. In 2007 the RRC relocated their office to the Park Square Mall in downtown Dickinson. Shortly, thereafter, the part-time staff person hired by the Stark County Fair Board was also relocated to the RRC Office and remains there to this day. The commission works diligently year round to ensure southwest North Dakota celebrates the 4th of July in style!
The event with the humble beginning now boasts a big and bold future. Tagged one of the largest 4th of July Celebrations in the upper Midwest, it’s a fun packed family getaway. So join us and begin your 4th of July with a Yee Haw and end with a Boom, Roughrider Days Fair and Expo is fun for all ages. From rodeo to racing and everything in between, Roughrider Days Fair and Expo, it’s a rodeo and so much MORE!