New DEX manager relishes a return to her roots

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HURON — Among the hundreds of faces that will be taking in this weekend’s PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) Rodeo at the Dakota Events CompleX (DEX) on the S.D. State Fairgrounds, is one who is participating in the first of what will likely be numerous events at the facility.

“My name is Katie Eslick and I am the new manager of the DEX,” she said as way of introduction last week. “I am very excited to see what can happen here!”

Eslick began work here in mid February, after a five-year tenure as the Coordinator of Development and Engagment with the acclaimed Arizona National Livestock Show in Phoenix.

“I was part of a team that worked with different sponsors and stakeholders to help present a show which prides itself on being an exhibitor-focused livestock show,” she said. “I hope to bring those same skills and that approach to promoting the DEX.”

The road that led Eslick to the Fair City has not been a direct route.

She grew up in Winter, Calif., a city of approximately 6,500, directly west of Sacramento in the northern part of the state. “The area is mostly cattle ranching and rice farming,” she said. “Winters is small - when we got our first stop light we had a parade!”

She showed livestock as a youth, developing her love of all things livestock and horse related. She built upon that by participating in competitive livestock judging, first at Modesto Junior College, then later, at Texas A&M, where she was a member of the Aggies’ 2013 National Champion Collegiate Livestock judging team.

“I attended A&M to pursue a degree in agriculture communications and journalism,” she said. At A&M, and prior to that at Modesto Junior College, I was part of competitive judging teams. “At A&M, I was a member of the 2013 National Champion Collegeiate Livestock Judging team."

After getting her degree, she began work in Phoenix, but is grateful now to have a chance to get back to a smaller city.

“I am so excited to be back in the heart of such an agricultural area,” she said. “The DEX is what drew me; 100 percent. It is simply an amazing facility. I have a passion for the livestock and agriculture industry. I still really enjoy livestock shows, sometimes I stream them online.”

She has hit the ground running, according to S.D. State Fairgrounds manager Peggy Besch.

“She has relationships and connections in the livestock industry and is very involved in networking for future events at the DEX,” Besch said.

“I want to be able to highlight agriculture, as well as the livestock and rodeo industries,” Eslick said, “and having a facility like the DEX is going to be a huge selling point to those industries.”