Casey Tibbs

Last Updated by Brian Gevik, Text by Cindy Bahe - Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center on
All Images: Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center, Fort Pierre

Casey Tibbs was born in 1929 in a meager log cabin 50 miles northwest of Fort Pierre. Against his father’s wishes, he started riding in rodeos at age 14. According to his father, people participating in rodeos were bums and there was no future in it. Because of his love and involvement with rodeo, Casey wasn’t allowed to return home and was on his own from that time on.

casey tibbs young

At 19, Casey Tibbs became the youngest man ever to win the national saddle bronc-riding crown. From 1949 to 1955, he became a 9-time World Champion, winning six PRCA saddle bronc-riding championships, two all-around cowboy championships and one-bareback-riding championship.

casey tibbs riding necktieCasey Tibbs riding "Necktie"

casey tibbs riding easy moneyCasey Tibbs riding "Easy Money"

His life was thrust into the limelight, appearing on the TV show “To Tell the Truth” and his photo appeared on the cover of “LIFE” magazine. In 1958 he took a rodeo troupe to the World’s Fair in Belgium and introduced rodeo to Japanese spectators in 1973, staging 162 performances with his troupe.

casey tibbs

Though he had the highs and lows often associated with accelerating fame, Tibbs always had time to visit children in the hospital and help with charity work. He lived life to the fullest, often pulling pranks on friends.

poster for "Born to Buck"

After his rodeo career, Tibbs wrote, produced, starred and performed stunts in scores of movies. He produced the bestseller video “Born to Buck” as well as other films. A little known fact is Tibbs was John Wayne’s right hand technical man when the actor needed advice to produce realistic western films. Tibbs also acted or performed stunts in movies alongside actors such as Henry Fonda, Will Rogers Jr., Rod McKuen and Steve Ford, son of President Gerald Ford.

Casey Tibbs with movie stars

Casey Tibbs at a western film festival

Casey’s dream was to build a museum where all South Dakota rodeo greats could be honored. Though he died in 1990, the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center in Fort Pierre was eventually completed in 2009.

Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo CenterCasey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo CenterFort Pierre, South Dakota

casey tibbs statueStatues of Casey Tibbs and Mattie Goff NecombFort Pierre

Tibbs final resting spot is at the Scotty Phillips Cemetery just outside of his hometown of Fort Pierre. Tibbs’ boots, buckles, clothing, photos and cowboy hats are on display with other rodeo greats artifacts. Tibbs’ life will be highlighted in the upcoming documentary “Floating Horses – The Life of Casey Tibbs”.

painting of casey tibbs

Dakota Midday

Interview with Cindy Bahe, Director, Casey Tibbs SD Rodeo Center

Host: Lori Walsh

Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center at

"Personalities" with Chuck Anderson. Vintage radio interviews with well known and not so well known South Dakotans.

Personalities: Baxter Black

The nation knows his tongue-in-cheek performances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. People from the heartland...

Personalities: Roy and Lucille Fitz Pt. II

In this continuation of the story of Roy and Lucille Fitz, the De Smet couple discusses the reality of the...

Personalities: Roy and Lucille Fitz, Part 1

Sadly, we're losing senior South Dakotans able to share first-hand remembrances of what life was like here in the...

Personalities: Huron Native Candace Hilligoss on Her 1962 Cult Film Classic, "Carnival of Souls"

Candace Hilligoss grew up in Huron during the 1940s and 1950s and graduated from Huron high school. After three...