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Show must go on: A view into Little International

Slideshow: Held each February since 1926, Little I is the largest student-run event at North Dakota State University.

The Little International livestock show at NDSU has been a staple for North Dakota agriculture since 1926. Despite pandemic restrictions, the show management, Saddle and Sirloin club and its advisers made the 95th show a reality.

“So this year we’re trying to keep things as similar as it has been to the past. The manager and I joke that she’s written nine COVID plans, maybe more preparing for this year’s Little I,” says Samantha Pernsteiner, 95th Little I Queen and a senior at North Dakota State University.

The manager for Little I this year is Kadey Holm, a senior double majoring in animal science and agriculture communications from Forbes, N.D. Due to North Dakota being moved into the green risk level for COVID-19 prior to the show, Holm worked with NDSU faculty and was able to have up to 1,000 people attend.

Even with health and safety guidelines limiting club meetings, activities and outreach, Pernsteiner shares Saddle and Sirloin is seeing even more involvement this year. “This is one of the bigger incoming freshman and sophomore classes that we’ve had. We have a lot of novices and new members this year, which is really exciting to see fresh faces wanting to participate in Little I.”

Honoring agriculturalists

While the livestock show is the largest portion of the Little International, there are many more activities.

“It’s a livestock show, but there are tons more things going on — a raffle, a speech competition, ham curing — and we honor our club’s agriculturalist of the year. We nominate and vote on who we’d like to honor as the agriculturalist of the year. This year it is Julie Ellingson,” Pernsteiner says. “She was selected because she has had significant impact on agriculture in North Dakota, and she truly embodies our theme this year which is Pursuing Our Passion. She’s a true advocate for agriculture, and we’re excited to have her back in Shepperd Arena as a past Saddle and Sirloin member.”

Ellingson is from St. Anthony, N.D., where she was raised on her family’s fourth-generation cattle operation. She attended NDSU where she majored in mass communications and was involved in Saddle and Sirloin, communication groups and the dairy judging team. She is executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, runs Ellingson Angus with her husband, and is a frequent volunteer to FFA, 4-H and North Dakota Junior Angus Association.

The Little International show is held in February each year, in Shepperd Arena at NDSU.

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