The 2012 Western Junior Livestock Show (WJLS) was held Oct. 10-13, at the Central States Fairgrounds in Rapid City, SD. Competitors from Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska gathered to compete and celebrate at the events 75th anniversary.
WJLS Secretary and Manager Jackie Maude explained that a lot of quality volunteer help and director input come together to make the show a success every year, and that this year was no exception.
“The weather was nice, plus we had good judges, directors, volunteers, and great kids and families to work with. There were lots of new kids this year, which was pretty special. I started showing at the WJLS in 1967, and haven’t missed one since. Our numbers have dwindled since that time, due in part to school sports programs and schools not allowing kids to miss school for educational trips anymore. So, to see so many new faces this year was great,” she explained of the 2012 show, which included a newly implemented alumni showmanship class within the beef, sheep and swine species, in addition to the traditional classes and contests.
Ideas of a show began in July of 1938, when four men gathered in Rapid City, SD, to discuss ways of promoting the beef industry of Western South Dakota and the newly developed 4-H Range Management programs. The meeting resulted in plans to inaugurate a show where area ranchers and 4-H Club members could show and sell feeder calves.
Those four founding members included Walter Taylor, Enos Blair, Ernest Ham and Raymond Lund. Following a second meeting, they hosted the first annual calf show in October of 1938. One hundred and ten rancher calves and either 14 or 17, 4-H calves were present at the show, with Miss Louise Rabern of Meade County exhibiting the prize winning 4-H calf. He was sold through the show’s sale for $105.
By 1940, 96 4-H calves were shown in multiple classes, with the champion calf being sold for $135. The rancher division boasted 888 calf entries, with the top price paid for a carload of calves at $12.70 per hundredweight. The show continued to grow and evolve for the next several decades. Paid trips were incorporated to the Little I in Brookings, SD and the Denver Roundup, which was later switched to a trip to the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in Denver, CO. A livestock judging contest was started in 1952 and a carcass contest began in 1960.
It was in 1956 that a proposal resulted in the changing of the shows name from the Western Calf Show to the Western Junior Livestock Show, and at which time swine and sheep exhibits were added. That year 583 cattle and 107 sheep were entered for the show.
This year’s WJLS boasted 196 exhibitors showing beef, dairy, sheep, swine and goats and competing in the numerous judging contests, family and consumer science classes and various other opportunities made available over the course the three-day event.
The original concept of promoting western South Dakota Agriculture, and working with youth, is still alive and well at the event. Among this year’s competitors was 17-year-old Mary Kroupa, of Kimball, SD, and 14-year-old Rapid City native Raina Perli.
“I’ve been competing at the WJLS for eight years, and have mainly shown cattle and sheep, and judged on the meats and livestock teams,” explained Kroupa of her involvement, adding she exhibited a futurity heifer, futurity steer, open market beef steer, English breeding heifer and an English feeder steer at this year’s event.
“I like the feeling of going into the ring, and when a judge looks at my calf. I like the anticipation of whether the judge is going to like your calf or not,” said Kroupa of her favorite part of showing, which has been fruitful. She exhibited the overall Grand Champion futurity beef in 2011, in addition to taking Reserve Champion honors in the carcass portion of the contest. She has also been the Reserve Champion individual in the livestock judging contest, which won her a trip to the NWSS.
Perli has been showing at the WJLS for five years, participating in the Gelbvieh breed, beef, hog, diary and family consumer science shows. She has also participated in vegetable and meat identification and family and consumer science judging.
“I like preparing my animals for the show. We pick from our own herd and the bring them in, and you get to compare them to other people’s livestock and see how they place with the judge on that day,” she explained of her favorite part.
“Last year I won the legacy heifer show, and I’ve also received best of show dairy female twice; once in 2008 and again in 2009. I was first in dairy showmanship one year also,” stated Perli of her accomplishments.
When asked if they would recommend the show to other people their age, both agreed wholeheartedly that they would.
“I think it’s good for young people to get involved in something like this because they can learn a lot when they’re young, then put what they learned to use as they get older. I’m very glad I started showing here when I was young. It’s a family atmosphere where you know everyone and enjoy catching up with them each year,” stated Kroupa.
“Through this show people my age learn life skills that aren’t offered in school anymore. Plus, it’s a lot of fun and you meet some really awesome people,” added Perli.
WJLS Secretary and Manager Jackie Maude echoed the girl’s sentiments, saying the show offers hands-on learning experiences in ag-related fields, and helps young people to realize if a specific area of agriculture interests them or not.
“We enjoy watching the kids compete and grow through the show, and are excited for the next 75 years,” she concluded.