SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Mayor Mike Huether looked on, intently listening, as PBR CEO Sean Gleason raved about how fast Sioux Falls has evolved into the most successful PBR regular season event in only three years.
“It has been a very special event for us,” Gleason said. “This year we set a new record here in Sioux Falls, so Sioux Falls now has the record again for being the most-successful PBR regular-season event.”
Gleason hadn’t even finished his sentence before Huether was nearly jumping out of his chair and pumping his right fist during the Friday morning press conference for this weekend’s First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard Invitational.
Huether has been the mayor of Sioux Falls since 2010 and has fallen in love with the PBR since attending the inaugural Sioux Falls Built Ford Tough Series event in 2015.
The Yankton, South Dakota, native has played a large role in creating the momentum behind the rise of Sioux Falls into one of the marque stops on the Built Ford Tough Series.
This weekend’s event is already sold-out for the first two nights of competition and Championship Sunday is on pace to be a sellout as well.
Therefore, it was only fitting that Gleason pegged Huether as the first “Mayor of PBRville” as he presented him with a custom-made Montana Silversmiths belt buckle.
“We are proclaiming you the official mayor of PBRville,” Gleason said. “They don’t have an official mayor. I don’t know if you can do double duty, but PBR needs a mayor.”
Huether stunned, quickly asked for in-arena announcer Matt West’s cowboy hat before approaching the podium.
“The people of Sioux Falls, and people of South Dakota, and everybody loves PBR,” Huether said. “I am honored. This journey that I have been on here in Sioux Falls, one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is you never know what this city is going to bring.
“I didn’t aspire to be the mayor of PBRville, but…”
Gleason then interjected, with a big smile, “It actually doesn’t exist.”
To which Huether replied, “Well, it exists in my mind.”
Huether’s “election” to Mayor of PBRville is a reflection on the entire Sioux Falls community and its commitment to the PBR.
“I will do my part as best I can as the mayor of not only Sioux Falls, but of PBRville,” Huether said. “On behalf of 178,500 people that call Sioux Falls home, not only is this belt buckle going to worn proud by me, but I will try to share it with as many citizens as I can.”
The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center has become one of the loudest arenas on the PBR tour, and the vocal Sioux Falls fans were on their feet last year when two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney rode Pearl Harbor for 94.25 points.
Huether, who says he has “farm blood in him,” credited South Dakota’s deep Western roots, not to mention endless amounts of people behind the scenes, for the PBR’s fast success in the largest city in South Dakota.
“First of all, there is that history,” Heuther said in a follow-up interview. “In Sioux Falls, (the state of) South Dakota and the Midwest, we relish not only the athletes, the bull rider, but we are as thrilled by the bulls they are riding against. That experience. That unbelievable toughness to take on that challenge. We are an agriculture-based community and area.
“The bull riding. The big kahuna. PBR has taken that one aspect of rodeo and blown it up.”
So how would one become a “citizen” of this so-called PBRville?
“Well, if there is one, they come here and have a damn, good time,” Huether said. “They make memories. Whether it is with their 6-year-old grandson or their 88-year-old grandma. There is something for everybody at a PBR event. There is certainly the athletes and the incredible animals. The tension before the ride. The anxiety during the ride. Then cheering whether they finish the 8 seconds or not. There is this unbelievable pride of the experience you went through. Then you throw in everything else. The comedy. The rock show environment. The smoke. The fire.
“There are memories to be had at a PBR event.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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