At the historic 70th annual Norfolk Beef Expo on Sunday afternoon at the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex, it was fitting that a champion with deep historic ties to the expo was crowned.
Ten-year-old Elliott Hansen of Norfolk and his heifer, Scotchy, were named the grand champion of the market heifers.
Hansen’s grandparents were some of the original hosts of the Norfolk Beef Expo, which was formerly hosted at the Norfolk Sale Barn.
Hansen was showing cattle at the expo for the first time, and he wasn’t the only first-time winner. Eleven-year-old Josie Ritter of Beemer, another first-time exhibitor, won the grand championship for market steer.
Hansen said raising a champion heifer didn’t come easily.
"When school started, I've been having to get up at 5 to get them in the cooler, and wash them, blow them out and comb them to get out all of the (loose) hair,” Elliott said as the 1,238 pound, 48-inch-tall heifer licked his face. “At night I'd have to rinse them and sometimes walk them for exercise."
Josie also said she spent up to four hours a day preparing her calves over the past year.
Judge Kinsey Freeman said before naming Elliott champion that Scotchy the heifer was very impressive.
“(I) really like all the pieces she brings here today,” Freeman said. “She’s very stout and very bold.”
Regarding the steers, Freeman said the six finalists were all very high caliber and Josie’s steer has excellent size and proportions.
“He’s got a few advantages when you really study him,” Freeman said.
Josie’s steer weighed in at 1,384 pounds and 50 inches tall.
Freeman said that ultimately there were many strong competitors and the show was a good opportunity for young people.
“Competing at these isn’t cheap or easy,” Freeman said. “But it is very rewarding for all these kids.”
Two reserve champions also were crowned. Mikeayla Samuelson of Hastings was awarded the reserve championship in market heifers, and Kolton Rasmussen of Newman Grove won reserve champion for market steer.
Kolton was a grand champion at the previous beef expo.
All four champion cattle were sold at an auction immediately following the show. The buyers do not actually purchase the cattle directly. The animals are processed by Tyson in Dakota County and the money is donated directly to the sellers who raised the animals.
Typically the winners use the prize money to continue raising animals for next season or save it for college education.
Josie’s steer was sold for $2,600 to West Point Implement and Design; Elliott’s heifer was sold for $1,500 to Lou’s Thrifty Way; Kolton’s steer was sold for $500 to a group of multiple buyers; and Mikeayla’s heifer was sold for $500 to a group of multiple buyers.
Nearly 100 competitors in total were at the expo Sunday. It is hosted by the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agri-Business Council with the help of numerous corporate sponsors.