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Ranchers visit annual Hoosier Beef Congress
Indiana Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Hoosier Beef Congress continues a 20-year tradition and hundreds of Indiana farm families will join in the celebration this weekend at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Doors for the trade show open at 9 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday for what is considered the state’s premier cattle show. The event is a time for the state’s beef cattle to shine, said Julia A. Wickard, executive vice president of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association, sponsor of the event.

“The Congress gets bigger and better every year because of the numerous producer volunteers that assist in putting on this event for our youth in the beef industry,” Wickard said. “The Congress is a great opportunity for breeders to improve their seedstock with some of the best that Indiana has to offer in the numerous Purebred and famous All-Star Steer and Heifer sales.”

The IBCA will celebrate the 20th anniversary with cupcakes for everyone on Saturday along with special recognition for individuals who have influenced the formation of the Hoosier Beef Congress in the past.

Barry Jordan was one of the organizers of the first HBC which had a couple hundred entries. It was planned to bring beef cattle producers from all kinds of production together, and centered on junior activities to bring in parents, grandparents and kids.

“When we first started talking about having it we were concerned if we could get enough participation at that time of year,” Jordan said. “We didn’t have a clue it was going to take off like it did.”

He remembers an amusing phone call from a young boy in the second or third year of the Congress. The boy was worried that he had missed the deadline to enter.

“‘Oh, thank goodness I can still get in. This has been a lifelong dream of mine,’” Jordan quoted the boy as saying.

The interest that grew from the annual event led to the formation of the Indiana Junior Beef Cattle Assoc.

“The kids that were involved early on are involved now as volunteers,” Jordon said. “It sparked their interest and they’ve stayed at it.”

More than 1,500 head of top-quality show heifers and steers are expected to pass through the shows and sales rings at this year’s Congress.

Separate shows and sales will be conducted for 11 breeds: Angus, Charolais, Chianina, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Maine-Anjou, Red Poll, Salers, Shorthorn and Simmental.

There also will be commercial heifers and crossbred steer shows and sales.

Main events in the Cattle Barn include:

•10 a.m. – Purebred and All Star Steer and Heifer Show, show ring
•6 p.m. – Showmanship preliminaries, show ring

•9:30 a.m. – Purebred sales, south end
•9:30 a.m. – All Star Steer and Heifer Sale, south end
•11:30 a.m. – Showmanship semi-finals and finals, show ring
•2 p.m. – Junior Show begins, show ring

•7 a.m. – Church service, show ring
•8 a.m. – Junior Show continues

Wickard said one of the challenges of the HBC is trying to squeeze so much into one weekend, and organizers are always looking for ways to make the event run more efficiently. This year the heifer show will be split into two rings because of the large number of heifer entries.

“We have a greater number of heifers than in the past,” she said, “in part because we always encourage the kids to start with heifers to grow their herds.”

Besides shows and sales, the HBC focuses on youth with contests for showmanship, judging, team fitting and posters. The trade show features new products and services available to cattle producers from vendors, government agencies and agricultural organizations.

This farm news was published in the Nov. 29, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.