2019 Logan County Fair

Logan County 4-H Steer Show best of the best headed for the Illinois State Fair

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[August 02, 2019]  For 4-H youth showing cattle, the coveted honor is to be the one and only who owns and shows that Grand Champion Steer. At local competitions, winning the prize is a matter of pride and prestige, with a picture in the local papers, plaques from local sponsors and support from the local beef association. That winning title is also sought after for bigger reasons, the opportunity to show at the state fair.

And, at the Illinois State Fair the goal is to be in that best of the best category once again, because that qualifies the animal for the Governor’s Sale of Champions. When a kid and his or her animal is good enough to get to that very high honor, it also means getting to the big bucks in showing livestock. At that auction, a 1,000 to 1,200 pound steer has been known to bring in more than $100,000…sometimes much more.

That money goes back to the young person who raised the animal and makes for a very nice return on investment that can cover costs of raising the animal and add something to the college fund, or to the nest egg that will someday help that young person become a farm or ranch owner in their own right.

But, it all has to start at the local fair. The animal has to compete against others, kids go head-to-head with their peers in raising the animal, working in practice show rings, grooming, and more; then go through the nerve wracking experience of being judged by someone who is considered to be an expert in the field.

But it is all worth the effort when the name is called and dreams of the state fair become a reality.

This year in Logan County the one chasing his dream to Springfield next week will be Rex Brooks with his Grand Champion Steer.

The 4-H Steer Show at the Logan County Fair ran on Thursday morning with Rex showing his animal in the Hereford class and winning Champion Hereford. From there he and the steer waited to the end of all the breed classes, then he went up against the champion of each breed, and again came out in that first place position.

The show this year was leaner than it has been in past years, but the quality of animals in the show ring was very high.

In the Angus breed Wade Davis had two entries, one in the light weight and one in the medium weight class. He took away the breed champion and reserve champion in his category.

In the Hereford class Charlotte Toohill brought in a light weight competitor. Rex Brooks, Addam Hoebert, and Porter Schwantz brought in the mid-weight animals and as stated earlier, Brooks took the breed championship.

James ‘JR’ Lynn brought in the only entry in the Shorthorn breed, a steer weighing 1,135 pounds.

In the Simmental breed, Porter Schwantz was back in the ring with his light weight steer. If the last name sounds familiar to beef ranchers, its probably no wonder. Across the ring Herman Schwantz was keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings as a volunteer helping with the 4-H show. Asked to confirm that Porter was ‘his,’ he smiled and said “sometimes.” We have to assume the rest of the time Porter belongs to his mother! However, on this day Herman was claiming the boy and happily revealed that this is his first year showing 4-H cattle. In the end, Porter did well for his first year of showing, walking out of the ring leading the Reserve Champion in the Simmental class.

Vivienne Pratt won the Champion Simmental with her mid-weight steer coming in at 1,260 pounds.

The Crossbred/AOB class was the largest class of the day with five entries across all three weight levels.

In the light weight category Paige Finchum, Kennadie Finchum and Greg Toohill brought in animals. The single entry in the medium weight class was brought in by Austin Curry. In the heavy weight class, two animals weighing in at 1,330 pounds and 1,440 pounds were brought in by Jayden Lawrence and Cullen Tyson. In that breed class Paige took the Champion Crossbred/AOB and Tyson took Reserve.

Then it was time for the Grand Champion competition. Those entering the ring were the champions from each of the breed classes; Wade Davis (Angus), Rex Brooks (Hereford), JR Lynn (Shorthorn), Vivienne Pratt (Simmental), and Paige Finchum (Crossbred/AOB).

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The animals paraded the ring as the judge scrutinized each one. The anxious looks on each kid’s face told the story, they were this close, just a breath away, a snort from the steer and swish of the tail, it would be just that quick, and someone’s dream would be realized.

The judge wasted no time in selecting the animal of choice and soon it was all over. The judge walked the length of the ring and extended her hand to the best of the best for 2019 – Rex Brooks with his Hereford steer. A round of applause, a sigh of relief, then it was on to the tension of the Reserve. That too went quick as the judge revealed her choice was the Crossbred/AOB shown by Paige Finchum.

The champ and reserve led their animals to the photo wall where they were awarded their winning plaques and had their photos taken with Miss Logan County Fair Queen Skye Kretzinger.

This year the Grand Champion plaque was sponsored by Atlanta Ag and the Reserve plaque was provided by Tabor Feed Mill. Winners also received a monetary award from the Heartland Beef Alliance who was the primary sponsor of the show for 2019.

Grand Champion Steer - Rex Brooks with Logan County Fair Queen Skye Kretzinger.

Reserve Champion Paige Finchum.

Shorthorn Champion and third overall – JR Lynn.

Champion Simmental and the 2019 Scramble Calf Judging winner Wednesday night - Vivienne Pratt. This steer was won at the 2018 calf scrambles by Pratt. She then showed it for judging on Wednesday night along with all the other 2018 Scramble calf winners. She showed it again on Thursday in the breed classes. Pictured with her brother, Garrett, at the far left; breeder Troy Gehrke and Queen Skye.

[Nila Smith]

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