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Take a look around the 2023 Illinois State FairTake a look around the 2023 Illinois State Fair

Slideshow: The state fair’s story is written in the barns, and we’ve got a look at this year’s highlights.

23 Slides

The 2023 Illinois State Fair wrapped up over the weekend, concluding its 11-day run. Many junior livestock exhibitors will remember this state fair as “the rainy one,” as heavy rains poured down during a couple of days early in the fair.

Aug. 16 saw 3.5 to 4 inches of rain fall, causing minor flash flooding on the fairgrounds — but nothing like the floods that occurred in 2016, destroying vehicles and campers in Happy Hollow and flooding the junior cattle barn. This year’s rain poured through leaky roofs on junior livestock buildings and forced officials to postpone harness racing one day and delay midway rides.

Storms forced the cancellation of the annual Ag Day breakfast, to be held on the Director’s Lawn on Friday, Aug. 11. Officials juggled the schedule this year, moving Ag Day from Tuesday to the preceding Friday, and moving the Sale of Champions from Tuesday to Wednesday.

The annual Sale of Champions was held in the Coliseum on Wednesday, Aug. 16. The CME Group awarded $45,000 in scholarships to the winning exhibitors, and Beck’s awarded $20,000 in scholarships to exhibitors. The proceeds from the Sale of Champions are divided on the following basis:

  • 50% to the owner/exhibitor of the animal sold

  • 15% to the owner/exhibitor of the reserve grand champion

  • 15% divided evenly among the breed/weight class champions

  • 10% to the Illinois 4-H Foundation

  • 10% to the Illinois FFA Foundation

Land of Lincoln champions are divided slightly differently:

  • 50% to the owner/exhibitor of the animal sold

  • 12.5% to the owner/exhibitor of the reserve grand champion

  • 12.5% divided evenly among the breed/weight class champions

  • 10% to the Illinois 4-H Foundation

  • 10% to the Illinois FFA Foundation

  • 5% to the Land of Lincoln Purebred Breeders Association

Here’s a look at results for the champion junior livestock:

Grand Champion Steer: $105,000

  • Exhibited by Kashen Ellerbrock, Henry County

  • Purchased by JB and MK Pritzker

Land of Lincoln Grand Champion Steer: $40,000

  • Exhibited by Maddox Reedy, Douglas County

  • Purchased by Brandt

Grand Champion and Land of Lincoln Champion Barrow: $25,000

  • Exhibited by Hunter Shike, Champaign County

  • Purchased by CME Group

Grand Champion Market Lamb: $11,000

  • Exhibited by Lilian Unger, Kankakee County

  • Purchased by North American Midway Entertainment, Syngenta, Eric Faugust and West Central Farm Supply

Land of Lincoln Grand Champion Market Lamb: $7,500

  • Exhibited by Bryce Clayton, Scott County

  • Purchased by AgriGold, Kiefer Farms, Pivot Bio, Logan Agri-Service Inc., LG Seeds, Jones Show Feed-Andy and Darcie Jones, Roland Machinery

Grand Champion Meat Goat: $6,000

  • Exhibited by Nolan Hoge, McDonough County

  • Purchased by George Obernagel and Obernagel Family Farms

Land of Lincoln Grand Champion Meat Goat: $5,500

  • Exhibited by Trig Stoller, Woodford County

  • Purchased by Evans Feed and Bedding, Ed Teefey and Farmers, State Bank and Trust Co.-Mount Sterling, and Illinois State Fair Sky Ride

Overall Breeding Poultry Champion: $5,250

  • Exhibited by Owen Pree, Iroquois County

  • Purchased by McDonalds Marty and Donna Davis, Mike McGraw, Michael Kasprzyk and Brad and Karol Davis

Grand Champion Rabbit Market Pen: $6,500

  • Exhibited by Chesney Thorton, McLean County

  • Purchased by Springfield Plastics, AgriVest Farm Management, Field Level Agriculture Inc.

Masters of the ring

Illinois Farm Bureau held the annual Master Showmanship competition on Aug. 11. Taking top honors was Morgan Richardson, Boone County. Morgan was named Grand Champion Overall Master Showman. Aubrey Killey, Warren County, was Reserve Grand Champion Overall Master Showman. Third went to Preston Rhode, McLean County; fourth to Taylor Rhoads, DeKalb County; and fifth to Tait McCaskill, Brown County.

Individual species winners included:

Beef Champion. Lauren Wolter, Clinton County
Beef Reserve Champion. Morgan Richardson, Boone County
Swine Champion. Aubrey Killey, Warren County
Swine Reserve Champion. Preston Rhode, McLean County
Sheep Champion. Alivia Porter, Iroquois County, and Ashleigh Wackerlin, Kane County
Sheep Reserve Champion. Kylie Clayton, Scott County

Read more about:

Illinois State Fair

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, 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.

Betty Haynes

Betty Haynes is the associate editor of Prairie Farmer. She grew up on a Menard County, Ill., farm and graduated from the University of Missouri. Most recently, Betty worked for the Illinois Beef Association, entirely managing and editing its publication.

She and her husband, Dan, raise corn, soybeans and cattle with her family near Petersburg, Ill., and are parents to Clare.

Betty recently won the Emerging Photographer Award from the Ag Communicators Network during the 2022 Ag Media Summit and placed in the Emerging Writer category as well.

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