BROOKINGS, S.D. — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swiftel Center, located in Brookings, has proven itself to be the place to hold livestock and agriculture events.

“Where a lot of arenas don't have extra facilities to store livestock, we have that. So we are able to host them. Livestock is part of what we do,” said Tom Richter, executive director of the Swiftel Center.

In years past the Swiftel Center has held a variety of livestock events. Those events include a goat sale, a horse show, a cattle show and more. However, the Swiftel Center has seen an uptick in livestock-related events being housed in their facility this year, partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Swiftel Center decided to host the Charolais Junior National Show, a show that had been on their radar for some time. After careful consideration, the Swiftel Center believed they could host the show safely, keeping all attendees healthy.

“We decided to move forward with it in May, after talking and thinking about it we decided that we could put it on safely. When that word got out, the Simmentals called and we put on a last-minute show for them. Then, the Minnesota Holstein and Jersey Show wasn't able to be where they were going to be in Minnesota, so they came to Brookings. We actually had three weeks in a row where we had livestock shows. We gave them an opportunity to have their shows and move forward,” Richter said.

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The Swiftel Center has been very cautious while holding events during the pandemic, following both the CDC guidelines as well as the city of Brookings ordinance. There are hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility, the CDC guidelines are posted, all employees wear masks, social distancing is encouraged, and when cannot be achieved masks are also encouraged for those in attendance. The Swiftel Center also asks, if you don't feel well to stay home.

“We feel that we can operate and have events as long as we are conscious of this virus and the dangers of it. But we feel we can do it safely,” Richter said.

Richter has also seen many agriculturalists happy with the Swiftel Center’s perseverance throughout the pandemic.

“With the agriculture events, the people involved with them have proven to be eager to go out and show. They want to keep moving forward while experiencing life, and we are happy to help them do that,” Richter said.