There’s a good reason why crowds flock each April to the Northern Exposure Steer and Heifer Show in Belleville, Kansas.
“It’s probably the best show of the year,” exclaimed Amy Meysenburg, who co-owns Meysenburg Show Cattle with her husband Troy in Osceola, Neb. “Belleville is a big show with lots of friendly people,” Meysenburg explained as the event kicked off its 20th event year Sunday, April 21, inside the Eddie Valek Arena at the North Central Kansas Fairgrounds in Belleville.
The Meysenburg children relayed they work hard throughout the year to grow their cattle, and were excited about showing their groomed livestock. Excitedly joining the other 130 exhibitors, Trae Meysenburg, 14-years-old, won the Market Heifer class and earned Champion Intermediate Showman.
“We get attached to our animals. They almost become our pets by the time we get to the show,” Trae said.
Trae’s older sister, Tori, 17, won first in class with her Maine-Tainer breeding heifer, and third in class with her Purebred Charlois heifer.
“It boosts our pride to have a hard work ethic,” said Tori. “We rinse the cattle two to three times a day. It’s important to make sure they’re comfortable and not hot,” she said, as Trae and she fed their animals before show time.
Their parents are strong role models for their kids who are in 4-H. Dad Troy spent much of his childhood in 4-H, and mom Amy grew up showing horses.
“Both Tori and Trae are very competitive and work hard on their livestock throughout the year. Going to the show is the pay-off for all the hard work,” said Amy, who included her nephew Seth Hoffman in the cattle show/family vacation. Seth showed a market heifer.
The top-dollar prizes at the Northern Exposure event went to four Nebraskans. Katlyn Ahrens, 18, won $1,000 for Overall Supreme Champion Heifer. Ahrens said it took a minute to absorb the announcement over the loud speaker, when she won.
“It was kind of a shock,” Ahrens told the Fence Post. “But it’s really great. A lot of work has paid off,” she added.
Sutton Bellar, 13-years-old of Wisner, Neb., earned Overall Reserve Champion Heifer and took home $500. Then, a $1,000 check was awarded to 15-year-old Jesse Hoblyn of York, Neb., for Overall Champion Market Steer.
Hoblyn shared his excitement, “I was hoping ...” Hoblyn smiled. “I’m excited!”
Overall Reserve Champion Market Animal (Steer) went to Beau Bremer, 18, of Albion, Neb., along with a $500 check.
“We were able to offer these prizes because of generous donations from our sponsors,” said Tiffiny Sasser; Treasurer of the Northern Exposure Show. “Also for this 20th anniversary show, special Director’s chairs were given to the Champion and Reserve in all the breed classes,” said Sasser. Each Director’s chair was emblazoned with a sponsor’s name on the rich, black canvas chair backing.
The numbers are up this year. Lynette Beam, Northern Exposure organizer said the cattle show has grown in attendance and in exhibitors.
“We continually increase the number of head of cattle, and we continue to have an increase number from Nebraska, because we are fortunate to have an exceptional number of sponsors who participate. Our exhibitors and participants feel our line-up of awards is outstanding,” noted Beam, who’s been involved in Northern Exposure for 15 years. The entrants’ ages range from eight to 21.
For Showmanship, the Champion and Reserve classes included the following exhibitors: Champion Junior Showman went to Jami Hoblyn of York, Neb. Natalie Trauernicht of Wymore, Neb., won Reserve Champion Junior Showman.
In addition to Trae Meysenburg’s Champion Intermediate Showman title, the Reserve Champion Intermediate Showman went to Sutton Bellar.
Champion Senior Showman was awarded to Hadley Schotte of Marysville, Kan., and Reserve Champion Senior Showman went to Brooke Jensen of Courtland, Kan.
Jason May of Randolph, Minn., earned Champion Collegiate Showman. Reserve Champion Collegiate Showman was bestowed upon Charlsie Craig of Scandia, Kan.
Last, but certainly not least in the Showmanship category, the “Chin Up award” went to Brice Sasser, 8, of Cuba, Kan., when his steer chose not to fully cooperate in the ring. By keeping a stiff upper lip and taking the reins with his Hereford steer, Brice’s inspirational reaction resulted in earning the award, which was admired by his peers and the crowd.
Another young brother and sister, Hunter Johnson, 15, and his 12-year-old sister Haven of Washington, Kan., enjoyed exhibiting their livestock first at a nearby cattle show in their hometown Saturday, and then at the Northern Exposure event Sunday. The two events were held just 30-miles apart.
Hunter and Haven’s parents, veterinarian Dr. Kenneth and his wife Sally Johnson said that one particular bonus of the Belleville show is having the two shows over the same weekend.
“The Washington County Spring Beef Show Saturday was nearly identical, and this gives many people the opportunity to go to both, since they’re nearby,” said Dr. Johnson. “We usually don’t miss the Belleville cattle show. Mostly, we like the number of entries, and the competition. People are pretty laid back, and it’s so family-friendly,” added Dr. Johnson.
Haven won Champion AOB Steer (AOB is: All Other Breeds) at Belleville, and also showed a Maine-Anjou Heifer. Hunter was fourth in his class; showing his Shorthorn Plus Steer.
Both young Johnsons have been in 4-H since they were 7-years-old.
“Haven enjoys every aspect from the daily chores, to showing her cattle,” shared mom Sally. “And Hunter likes showing his cattle, and meeting his friends along the way,” shared Dr. Johnson. “We try to take in three to six spring shows, and always try to catch the state fair in the fall, and others,” he added. Their oldest daughter, now a junior in college also exhibited livestock at many cattle shows.
The families of two well-known Hereford breeders in Courtland, Kan., were represented by the next generation. Besides winning Reserve Showman, Brooke Jensen, 17, won Reserve Commercial Heifer. Her brother Ben Jensen, 13, won Breed Champion Hereford Heifer. Although their older brother Brady wasn’t an exhibitor at Northern Exposure, Brooke said he came to help, with their parents Kevin and Sheila Jensen.
Kevin Jensen’s brother, Kirk and wife Stephanie Jensen of Courtland, who were both active in 4-H and in junior Hereford associations, made the Northern Exposure Show-into a family vacation. Their children, Cody Jensen, 20, and Casey Jensen, 16, as well as 11-year-old Jessica joined their Jensen cousins at the event, with each exhibiting the family’s Hereford heifers.
“Showing cattle is like a family thing,” said Stephanie Jensen. You meet so many people, and of course you compete against them, but a lot of our friends came to show.”
A special cheerleader was in the crowd to root on all the young Jensens. Their grandmother, Darlene Jensen, also of Courtland, attends as many of the cattle shows as she can.
“Although my late husband Jim and I lived on a farm but not on a ranch, our sons Kevin and Kirk were the ones to get into the cattle business,” smiled Darlene Jensen.
The Jensens agree, that the Northern Exposure show is the first show they usually haul cattle, which helps everyone gauge the upcoming season.
“It’s relaxed, and you get a feel for what you’re going to do this summer with the cattle. The cattle also get used to being shown,” said Cody Jensen, adding he’s met people at livestock shows from Pennsylvania to California and in-between.
Casey was quick to point out other benefits of participating in the cattle show.
“Besides meeting new friends, what I look forward to the most, after doing all the hard work in the barn, is you get to see your hard work pay off,” said Casey. He credited 4-H with offering many experiences, including how to negotiate life’s twists and turns.
“4-H is a good way to get out and experience a wide variety of things. You learn many life lessons, like responsibility and politeness, and even the business part. You learn things like parliamentary procedure; for example how a meeting runs, or important things if you’re going into business and how to give speeches. It prepares you for the real world,” shared Casey. ❖