Hitting the Jackpot at the Illinois Beef Expo

Illinois Beef Expo

The Illinois Beef Expo is one of the most popular first stops of the jackpot season for Illinois cattleman. The Illinois Beef Expo started back in 1988 and has been held at the same place, Illinois State Fairgrounds, every year since, besides in 2008. This show is popular to exhibitors for many reasons. There is not only a show but also multiple different sales that happen throughout the week/weekend. Illinois Beef Expo hosts the Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale, along with the Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn, and Simmental sales. There is also a trade show in the basement of the show arena that hosts many different vendors, which also attracts a lot of people to the fairgrounds.

Cattle Shows Are All About Family

When I say that cattle shows are all about family, I mean that in two different ways. First of all, this is one of the main shows where my whole family can be at. We started loading the cattle trailer early Friday morning, in order to be at the show by 7:00 a.m. to help Four Corner Farms on their Angus for the futurity show. Not only do I mean these shows are only about family because my family works together every day to get the job done, but I also mean that everyone that we surround ourselves with become family as well. Family is not just by blood but also who is there for you every step of the way, and you really find of who your “cattle family” is, on show days.Lulu and i

Show Days

Cattle show days, along with any other form of livestock, is very hectic. Show mornings start off before the sun comes up, the cattle are brought in from tie outs, washed, hair blown out and worked, and then they are fed.  Once they are done eating, the show is usually about to start and each calf has to be fit.  When they are getting fit, that means they are getting their hair glued up, to make them look like perfection before they go into the show ring.

The heifer show, at the Illinois Beef Expo, started on Saturday, February 27, 2016.  On Saturday, the commercial heifers, Charolais, Chianina, Limousin, Maines, and Red Angus heifers all show.  The heifer show then splits the ring Sunday, February 28, 2016 with the steer show.  The bigger breeds for heifers showed on Sunday; Angus, Simmental, Shorthorn, Herefords and more. Once each breed had a selected champion, there is a Grand Champion Drive, where the judge picked the top five heifers from the entire show.  The overall selection of the show went, Grand Champion Heifer – Angus, Reserve –   Mainetainer, third overall – High % Simmental, fourth overall – Commercial, and fifth overall – Low % Simmental.

At the same time that the breeding heifer show was going, the steer show was going on, in the ring beside them.  The steer show is only on Sunday, because there are fewer numbers that participate in the steer show, but it is equally as competitive. At the end of the show, they also selected a top five overall.  The results for the steer show were as follows, Grand Champion Steer – crossbred, Reserve – maine, Third overall – crossbred, Fourth overall – maine, and Fifth overall – Simmental.

This years Illinois Beef Expo was a very competitive year, with around 750 animals checked-in to show.  At the end of the show I was talking to a family friend of ours, that is also involved in the cattle industry and I believe that he said it best; “We did not come here expecting to win the show, we came here to be competitive and have fun, and I believe that we hit the jackpot on that.”  The cattle industry is not just about winning, but having fun, enjoying the time spent with the “cattle family.”  Congratulations to all who won, and good luck to everyone going and competing in more jackpot shows the rest of the winter.

My name is Allison Hickey, I am a junior aclose upt Western Illinois University.  I am working towards my bachelors degree in AgriBusiness.  On campus, I am actively involved the Hoof n’ Horn club.  I graduated from Lincoln Land Community College, where I received my associates degree in Applied Sciences, with an emphasis in Agriculture. I was born and raised on a farm, where we raise, sell, and show beef cattle and farm corn and soybeans.


4 thoughts on “Hitting the Jackpot at the Illinois Beef Expo

  1. lauradenisee

    I show horses and show days can be just as hectic! This was a fun read for me since I don’t show cattle. I would agree that showing is about being competitive and having fun which is what it is all about!


  2. Randall Artis

    I have actually never been to the Illinois Beef Expo. I’ve heard quite a bit about it while attending my 7 years at WIU. I didn’t realize that the expo has only been around since 1988 that’s younger than me I was born in 1984. My family and I raise about 25 head of beef cattle on our small farming operation. I was involved in 4H from the time I was 8 years old up until I was 16 years of age. I showed cattle at the local Schuyler County Fair and I enjoyed the environment that we had there. You had the opportunity to compete versus your friends and could earn awards. I enjoyed the time and preparation that took to get the cow ready and trained for the shows. I really enjoyed your article and learning about the Beef Expo. Thanks


  3. jce110

    Showing cattle was not something I was ever able to do. I didn’t get involved in it at a young age, but I now regret that. Today, I am helping my younger brother prepare his dairy heifers to show. It is incredible how much he learns and enjoys doing it. There is an insane amount of work that goes into it, but the kid doesn’t seem to mind. We do catch a lot of grief from beef people about showing dairy, but I’m just happy to see the kid up off the couch doing something worthwhile.


  4. Justin Wood

    I was one of the fortunate that was able to show cattle when i was growing up. It was more than a learning experience, it was one of the many things that molded me as a child. If every kid growing up would be able to show it would be amazing how different younger kids would grow up into a more proactive lifestyle.


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