BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — The Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo is returning to Brookings for the first time since the start of the pandemic. They are prepared to welcome back 15 other competing schools and over 270 college rodeo athletes this weekend

The Jackrabbit Stampede is just a distant memory for SDSU rodeo contestant Judd Grover. The last time he experienced this home rodeo was during his freshman year of college.

“Oh it’s awesome. It’s the best rodeo of the year for sure. I mean we get a huge crowd. It makes you proud to do it. Makes you happy to be a rodeo cowboy and everything,” said Judd Grover, SDSU rodeo contestant.

But for many participants of the SDSU rodeo team, this is their first time competing on home dirt.

“Getting to see everybody who you know I go to class with or my family who’s close by, they always say ‘well when can we come see you’ and it’s like ‘well you’re going to have to wait a little while,'” said Elle Pieper, SDSU rodeo contestant.

“I haven’t really ever had a home rodeo before. This will be pretty exciting being in front of the home crowd and friends and family,” Chance Grill, SDSU rodeo contestant said.

The team says they are excited to be welcoming back thousands of spectators to the Jackrabbit Stampede, for the first time in three years.

“It’s been the rodeo of the year quite a few times in the past, so it’s special to them,” Coach Ron Skovly said.

“Just getting the word out more here… the community really comes together to support the college so I think that will be great,” said Prairie Retzer, junior.

“It’s definitely one of a kind. I mean you’re not gonna get that if you’re traveling a few hours away and it’s just really special for them to be able to see what I’m putting my time and energy into,” Pieper said.

“You know you sit in front of any audience and it’s fun to compete in front of, but having your home audience it’s a little bit more of a bonus, a little more excitement in the air,” said Grill.

The Jackrabbit Stampede is Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Swiftel Center Box Office.