SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Hard work paid off for Mercer county teen A.J. Line at Saturday’s Junior Steer Show when Line’s crossbred steer was chosen as the grand champion of the 2012 Illinois State Fair.
“It was a dream come true and everything I had been working hard for,” Line, 16, said.
When Line’s steer was chosen grand champion, the show ring erupted with cheers.
“I was nervous,” Line said as he awaited the judge’s decision. “I was hoping he was the one they would pick.”
Line is from Seaton, Ill. and a member of the Kimel 4-H Club and Mercer County FFA Chapter. He has been showing livestock for eleven years.
Zachary Day and his crossbred steer were named reserve grand champion. Day is sixteen years old and a resident of Lovington, Ill. He is a member of the Sunnyside Flea Flickers 4-H Club.
Line’s steer will be sold Tuesday in the Sale of Champions, an auction of the fair’s grand champion junior livestock. He said he already has plans for his money.
“It’ll go straight to college and next year’s steer,” Line said.
Joining Line in the sale will be seventeen-year-old Trey Fecke and his crossbred barrow. Fecke, a two-time grand champion from Bonfield, Ill., was reflective following his victory.
“I was looking back over the summer and back to 2006 and just examining both barrows and just how far we’ve come,” Fecke said.
Fecke is a member of the Cabery Specials 4-H Club and Tri-Point FFA Chapter. While winning is nice, he said it is not best part of the competition.
“It’s meeting people from all around the country and making new friends and learning good values,” he said.
The Reserve Grand Champion in the Junior Barrow Show was Jake Bloomberg. Bloomberg, who also showed a crossbred, is nineteen and hails from Berwick, Ill. He is a member of the Abingdon FFA Chapter and the Willing Workers 4-H Club.
The Governor’s Sale of Champions will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday evening in the Livestock Center. Preceding the sale will an auction of prize-winning commodities.
STATE FAIR HARNESS RACING GOES GLOBAL
Harness racing has a grand history at the Illinois State Fair. 2012 marks the 158th year the races have been held. With its storied history and reputation as the fastest dirt racetrack in the world, the Illinois State Fair is well-known in harness racing circles, and not just in the United States!
This year, for example, the races will be broadcast live on three different continents. People in Canada, South America and Australia, as well as the United States, will be able to watch and bet on the races via a live, satellite broadcast.
Horses are a billion dollar business in Illinois and the publicity the industry receives from the broadcasts is a boost to the state’s economy, according to Jim Hannon, general manager of Balmoral Park in Crete, Ill., which manages the fair’s harness races.
“Harness Racing at the State Fair is very important to agri-business,” he said. “It promotes horse breeding and hay farming.”
The horse racing industry also employs blacksmiths, trainers, owners, drivers and other professionals. By providing Illinois harness racing more exposure, Hannon hopes the satellite broadcasts will serve to make the industry a bigger part of Illinois’ economy.
Harness racing will resume next Tuesday, Aug. 14, and conclude Thursday, Aug. 16. Post time is noon each day. Admission is free.
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