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State Fair scrapbook: First time champion

Prairie Farmer asks 4-H youth to share their Illinois State Fair showring experiences.

Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer Senior Editor

August 14, 2016

3 Min Read

Editor’s note: This week, we’re sharing four “State Fair scrapbook” stories. This story is written by Nicki Adolph, 14, Mt. Carroll.

I’ve been showing cattle my entire life, and I have always wanted to show at the Illinois State Fair. It finally happened last year with my very special Red Angus heifer, Holly. She’d done pretty well before then, but nothing as exciting as what happened at the state fair.

Springfield is only four hours away, but it took a long time to get there because I was so excited. After this long day of being excited and yet nervous I had finally settled down. We stayed at the Microtel which was very nice and had extremely comfy beds that night.


Wednesday was the showmanship contest. About a half an hour before, I went to change my shirt. Long story short, I got really lost getting back to the stalls, and nobody could believe that I got lost. After my whole getting-lost thing, it was finally time for showmanship. I had no success in showmanship, but my friend, Alyssa, was reserve champion showman in her age division.

We showed first the next day, so at 4 a.m., we headed out to the fairgrounds. We got all of the heifers washed and fed, and then waited until it was time to start to fit. I was extremely nervous before walking into the ring with four other heifers. I have been in some pretty tough classes but I think that this one was the toughest. The judge walked us at least three more times before he finally made up his mind and he chose Holly and I to win the class! After winning that crazy-difficult class, I was ecstatic! In division, Holly and I won again. Then it came to the Red Angus championship drive…the most exciting part of the entire week was about to happen. By this time, Holly was getting tired but she kept going.

This time, the judge only walked us twice, but he still took his time picking champion. After a long time of being in the ring, the judge walked up to me and I thought he was going to shake my hand, but instead he asked me if Holly was bred. I said yes, then he stepped back, looked over the lineup one more time and then finally walked up and shook my hand.

We did it! Holly was named the 2015 Illinois State Fair Champion Red Angus Female!

Since Red Angus was the first breed of heifers to show, that meant that I got to lead all the heifers into the ring for the Supreme Drive on Friday afternoon. My first experience at the Illinois State Fair is one that I will not forget!

-Nicki Adolph

And check out more State Fair Scrapbook entries

Tuesday with Jack Jungmann

Wednesday - better together

Thursday - first-time champion

Friday - Poultry, Snickers and 'a guy named Phil'

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Prairie Farmer Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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