In South Dakota communities, football and farming are traditions that date back as far as anyone can remember. One area school district is starting a program where one is breaking tradition in order to help through a difficult time.
"I played football here. My sons played football here. My grandsons played football here and my great grandson is now playing football here," Fay Hendricks says.
Hendricks has been part of the Alcester community since 1940. But he doesn't recall anything like what the Alcester-Hudson school district started last year. As farmers struggled with the drought, the school removed the $4 ticket price for school events.
"People are struggling more and more and I think this gives everybody an opportunity to come to the game and not feel like they're spending their last dollars," Alcester-Hudson School District Superintendent Tim Rhead said.
The move was so popular it has carried over to this season. Not only is it appreciated by those who attend here regularly, but also by visitors, even if they're a little confused by it.
"We saw the activity parking so we pulled in. My friend and I were sitting there talking and we talking about it and looking around thinking, well, we have to pay don't we? There was no admission charge. We were really quite surprised," Dawn Conrad of Garretson said.
The free games come with one unexpected benefit. Revenue at the concession stand is up, partly because of increased attendance and also as people show their appreciation. That money goes to the student council, which pays it forward.
"Just last year alone the student council was able to donate $8,000 to different community organizations here between either Alcester or Hudson," Rhead said.
Rhead says some other schools have called, asking how the free admission is possible. Rhead doesn't know if other schools will follow the idea, but for Alcester-Hudson, it appears that a new tradition has been started.
"To open that up to the community at no charge, to get the support for their school, for the community and then to give back to them, that's awesome," Conrad said.
"It isn't just the money, it's the welcoming. The community is saying welcome," Hendricks said.
The free admission is only for regular home events, so tournaments and playoff games do have an admission price.