The Western Junior Livestock Show sharpens skills of future ag producers

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Western Junior Livestock Show began almost 90 years ago in 1937.  The annual show continues to be a big draw for youth in South Dakota as well as neighboring states such as Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska.


Youth enter a variety of contests that test their overall knowledge of livestock production.

“Being producers I think that this is a great thing to get into. It teaches you how to choose quality animals, whether it’s cattle, pig, sheep, whatever it is so you can better your herds” said Tharyn Barker, who placed 4th overall in the livestock judging contest.


This year, there were more than 1,800 entries, with 359 young participants. The competition was a fierce one. Grand Champion in carcass and reserve overall futurities steer Olivia Hadrick says winning came on the heels of many sacrifices.

“It’s definitely a big commitment you have to feed and water obviously every day, twice a day, and you know you have to turn down a lot of things that other people get to do and you don’t get to do that, but you know we have our fun with our cows.”

The show is open to youth from eight to 18. Matea Gordon has been in many livestock contests throughout the region and says it’s about hard work, but also knowing how to keep priorities in line.

“I’m always working with my livestock. It takes lots of hours to get them trained and fed well so that they are prepared for the show. I’m also involved in a lot of activity in school, so it’s really hard to balance the time, but if you’re going to be in 4-H and that you have to be dedicated so that you will succeed in the end,” said Gordon who won high overall senior reasons in the livestock judging contest.

Overall, the show which only included feeder calves in its first years has grown considerably now including sheep, swine, dairy, and goats making it one of the largest events in South Dakota.


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