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
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
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
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
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
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