SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The overall mood of the 29th annual Illinois Beef Expo during the final week of February was optimistic.
“The feeling I get from cattlemen throughout the state is that they’re cautiously optimistic,” said Mike Martz, president of the Illinois Beef Association (IBA). “The climate of the beef industry regarding price trends has been a challenge in the last couple of years, but seeing so many beef producers attending the Beef Expo this year showcasing or seeking high-quality genetics shows that cattlemen are resilient and constantly moving forward.”
The sales are always a draw, and the junior show is very strong, evident with 505 exhibitors and 822 total entries, Martz said.
Fifteen breed champions vied for the Grand Champion Heifer title at the expo, where Carter Hoge of Good Hope led his Limousin/LimFlex heifer to the banner Feb. 26. A total of 576 head were exhibited in the junior heifer show.
Judge Tyler Winegardner of Lima, Ohio, selected the heifer shown by Olivia Caldwell of Elmwood as Reserve Grand Champion and third overall heifer was shown by Anne Dameron of Towanda.
Ten breed champions vied for the Grand Champion Market Animal title, where Dalton Line of Seaton led his Champion Crossbred steer to the top prize. A total of 246 head were exhibited in the junior steer show.
Judge Chad Holtkamp of West Point, Iowa, selected the crossbred steer shown by Olivia Caldwell as Reserve Grand Champion. Third overall steer was the Angus steer shown by Adam Miller of Gridley.
The IBA Points Show Program awards youth for success in the show ring at sanctioned cattle shows throughout the state. At the expo, the Illinois Junior Beef Association Points Show Program overall winner, Sara Pieper of Stewardson, received a $2,000 scholarship.
In the Skillathon contest, which tests the youths’ beef cattle knowledge, Chase Travis of Olney topped the junior division. Nicholas Torrance of Macomb topped the senior division.
“We had tremendous participation from hundreds of Illinois Junior Beef Association members at the 2017 Illinois Beef Expo,” said Reid Blossom, Illinois Beef Association (IBA) executive vice president.
“They exhibited 821 head of steers and heifers in the junior show, and we also had 287 youth participate in the judging contest.”
Five junior showmen were recognized as the Spirit Award winners at the expo Feb. 25 at the state fairgrounds. The award showcases juniors exhibiting good sportsmanship, herdsmanship, respect for others and a strong work ethic.
A selection committee awarded Preston Rhode of Carlock, Addison Fidler of Cuba, Ty Pezanoski of Peru, Keegan Jacobson of Kewanee and Jenna Spangler of Marietta.
“Some of the greatest lessons learned by exhibiting livestock are not learned in the show ring, but in the barn the weeks and months prior to the show,” said Illinois Beef Expo junior show coordinator Julie Blunier. “We wanted to recognize youth who are working hard, showing respect to others and displaying a strong spirit to succeed."
Of the 4-H teams from across Illinois testing their animal evaluation skills in the livestock judging contest at the expo, the El Paso 4-H team came out on top. Team members are Keaton Stoller, Nash Stoller, Tucker Schlipf and Sawyer Schlipf, with their coach Riley Allspach.
Emma Richardson, competing as an individual, was the overall high individual in the 4-H contest. Anna Webel, a member of the Knox County Junior team, was the overall high individual in the junior 4-H division.
Liberty/Central, represented by Brady Haschmeyer, Reid Allen, Cody Knuffman and Brayden Freeman, won the FFA division coached by Cheyenne Starman. The top three FFA individuals were Haschmeyer, Liberty/Central FFA; Cody Knuffman, Liberty/Central FFA; and Marshall Tarr, Newton FFA 2.