|By TIM THORNBERRY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — While the 31st annual North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) is billed as the largest livestock show of its kind anywhere; while it brings an estimated 225,000 visitors to the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center; and while it has an estimated $11.5 million impact on the local economy, it is still a family event bringing people from 48 states to showcase their animals, have fun and be together.
This year’s show fulfilled all of those expectations during its run, which started Nov. 6 and will end on Nov. 18.
NAILE isn’t just livestock shows - even though there are competitions in dairy cattle, dairy goats, llamas and alpacas, Quarter Horses, draft horses, market swine, beef cattle, Boer goats and sheep. (The purebred beef and sheep events are the largest in the world.) The Expo also features the North American Championship Rodeo, including the invitational finals for the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Assoc., the North American Quarter Horse Show, which is among the top five shows in the nation, the U.S. Disc Dogs National Championship and other attractions.
While NAILE holds something for everyone, the youth have a substantial claim to many of the highlighted events. Seven major youth contests, including the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest and the National Collegiate Judging Contest were held along with the Sale of Champions, which puts the grand and reserve champions from the NAILE’s three junior market shows (Junior Steer, Junior Wether and Junior Market Hog) into an auction to the highest bidders.
The Giant Country Store brought more than 200 commercial vendors together selling everything from traditional western clothing to handcrafted furniture and of course livestock trailers and equipment.
Sandy Duffy of Georgetown, Ind. came to the Expo as a member of Friendship Spinners at the Art of Wool Showcase, which performed wool-spinning demonstrations.
“This is probably my fourth year here but I’ve been spinning wool for about 10 years,” she said.
Jarrad Kull, a fifth grader of Washburn, Ill. was making his first trip to the Expo to show sheep, a longtime Kull family tradition.
“I’ve had fun because I like to show sheep,” he said.
He also said it had been a good year for him and many of his friends like to show sheep, too.
While the livestock shows brought out dedicated competitors in many classes, the rodeo brought out the real cowboys and cowgirls as they competed for more than $80,000 and a chance to go on to compete in the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Pocatello, Id.
The championship event is part of the Great Lakes Pro Rodeo Cowboys Assoc. Circuit in which participants have competed all season for the opportunity to reach the finals in Louisville.
This year Kenneth Jungclaus, of Lebanon, Ohio, and Robbie Miller, of Baltic, Ohio, made their first trip to the North American Championship Rodeo to ride bulls. Jungclaus and Miller have been riding for about six years and often travel to events together.
“The bucking shoot is the most dangerous place because the bull can move and try to jump out and you are stuck in a tiny area,” said Jungclaus. “But the danger is worth it when you win.”
Miller agreed and said adrenaline rushes and screaming fans inspire him to continue his career as a bull rider.
“There just aren’t words to describe the feeling you get when you are out there riding,” he said.
While both riders have experiences broken bones in competition, they love it so much, they intend to keep going until they can’t ride anymore and while the two aren’t related, they have become like family while on the road and fit in well at this year’s Expo with the other 225,000 family members that have made the trip, as well.
This Kentucky farm news was published in the November 16, 2005 issue of Farm World.