For the first time in memory, a Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup was held with snow on the ground Friday as tens of thousands gathered to see the annual Park event. But the snow didn’t deter the 60 plus riders from doing what needed to be done to get the buffalo into the Park corrals.
There was snow on the ground and on the trees in Custer State Park this morning as the volunteers headed out to take their positions behind the Custer State Park buffalo herd
While several inches fell in the higher elevations, the buffalo pastures at the east end of the Park had just a light dusting, and by 9:30 it was gone.
Even so, the conditions were rainy, muddy, and cold, as the large crowd waited for the first sight of the herd; and there it was. This was a first for the volunteer drovers and for park officials.
“Well, it’s the first time in 17 years I’ve seen snow on it. I’ve seen rain before but the first time for snow,” said Chad Kremer, the Buffalo Herd Manager.
“It’s the first ever with rainy, snowy weather with the roundup,” said Matt Snyder, Custer State Park
“This is my seventh roundup and this is definitely my first time it’s ever been done in the snow and the rain,” said Mark Hendrix, the Park Resource Manager.
Steam could be seen rising from the herd of 1,300 bison as it was moved across the south pasture toward the buffalo corrals. Conditions were muddy for the spectators in the parking lots, and they were muddy for the herd as well.
“It was slick and muddy with what we had,” said Kremer.
Due to those conditions, Kremer says they didn’t push the herd quite as hard as they usually do.
“That was a safety concern for the riders and that, especially when we were in the rough terrain,” said Kremer.
Rusty and Jill Tabor came all the way from Wisconsin to see the roundup. They say it’s been on their bucket list for a long time. They say they loved it in spite of the cold.
“It was a little frosty. We had snow on the ground. Yeah, 30 degrees,” said Rusty and Jill Taber, of Wisconsin.
Custer State Park officials called the roundup a success and say they’ve learned a few more techniques about handling buffalo in imperfect weather.