|By TIM THORNBERRY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 20th Kentucky Beef Expo was March 3-5 at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, and it brought cattle breeders from all over the region together to buy, sell and show.
While the event got its official start in 1987, the roots of the Expo go back to 1947 where it began as the Kentucky Angus Sweepstakes.
The Sweepstakes started as a way to promote the Angus breed of beef cattle, and it was a two-day event, with bulls showing and selling on the first day and heifers on the second. Other shows for other breeds started throughout the years until all were combined to create the modern-day Beef Expo.
To make for a smooth-functioning event, a Kentucky Beef Expo Board was formed with two representatives from each breed, two Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) officials and one member of the Kentucky Cattleman’s Assoc.
Kentucky lawmakers voted to donate $4,000 annually to each of the 12 breed shows, which is matched by each breed through entry fees, giving each show $8,000 in premiums.
“Through two decades, the Beef Expo keeps getting better and better,” said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer. “It’s not only a showcase for Kentucky’s beef cattle industry, it’s a great opportunity for breeders to improve their seedstock with the best our state has to offer.”
Record crowds attended the 2005 Beef Expo, which generated total sales of $808,615. The average of $1,713 per head was $218 more than 2004.
“It’s one of the highlights of the show and sale season,” said John McDonald, beef coordinator for the KDA’s Division of Show and Fair Promotion. “The genetics, EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences) and quality of the cattle all seem better than in previous years. Artificial breeding has made the shows a lot more competitive.”
Currently, the Beef Expo hosts 12 breed shows and sales including Angus, Beefalo, Charolais, Chiangus, Limousin, Maine-Anjou, Polled Hereford, Red Angus, Red Poll, Salers, Shorthorn and Simmental.
The Expo offered other activities including a cattle-judging contest for 4-H/FFA members, who competed for $11,000 in premiums in the Junior Heifer Show on March 5. There was also a trade show, the Bull Alley display and the youth cattle-judging contest.
Donna Weinel made the trip from Alexandria, Ky., for her fifth Expo - bringing her daughters and the hope of a good sale and show.
“Expo is a place to come and get your name out, sell your breed and get your children involved,” she said.
Anne Patton Schubert of Taylorville, Ky. made her sixth visit to the Expo, where her Angus cattle took several prizes including Grand Champion Bull, Supreme Champion and Champion Pen Female.
Schubert along with husband, Gordon, runs a 21-acre Registered Angus operation, which they have owned since 1998.
“We have done a lot of showing over the years and we’ve done pretty well,” she said. “We have a bull that has won five different state fair championships. He’s called APS-DR. Cow Hand.”
With more than 20,000 visitors at this year’s Expo, organizers are working toward continued success. For more about the Expo, visit its website at www.kybeefexpo.com
This farm news was published in the March 8, 2006 issue of Farm World.