By Katie Prewitt, Contributing Editor
Empire is probably the most appropriate word to use when trying to describe the world of beef we live in here in western Kansas. Also appropriate is having a massive celebration of our most prized product. While Kansas is full of festivals that celebrate our commodities, none of them can quite compete with Beef Empire Days in Finney County.
Boasting several “beefy” events each year, Beef Empire Days has maintained tradition while also upping their marketing game to ensure that the community continues to be included, and understand and appreciate the significance of beef and its production.
From chuckwagons to cooking competitions, golf tournaments, rodent racing, carnivals, rodeos, cookoffs and of course the parade, the list of Beef Empire Days events is too long to discuss in one sitting. Here are some highlights from the 2019 fiesta. (If you are interested in a complete list of competition results, visit https://beefempiredays.com)
During Beef Empire Days there are noticeably more horse trailers around town, and not the horse trailers that are common for the smaller rodeos held in Finney County. These trailers have come from all over the state and country, bringing cowboys and cowgirls (and their horses) to compete in one of the “best rodeos on the planet.”
This year Miss Rodeo Kansas, Brooke Wallace; Miss Rodeo Idaho, Sara Weekes; Miss Rodeo K-State, Jamie Nemechek; Miss Rodeo Junction City, Zoe Bean; McCraken Rodeo Princess, Eva Gaschler; and Miss Teen Rodeo Kansas, Emma Losh, toured local elementary schools to educate kids about what happens at a rodeo. The group showed up in full western wear and showed the kids how they rope and barrel race.
Their audience was very interested in the ladies’ presentation until rodeo clown Scott Allerdings stole the show. Nonetheless, the group absolutely did their part to spark interest, create knowledge and draw a crowd for the event.
Main Street Garden City starts getting crowded about an hour and a half before the parade starts, and if you want to get a good seat, being extremely early is a must. It is pretty amazing to see how many people attend the parade, considering there are so many community members in the parade. Even with more than 100 float entries, spectators are shoulder to shoulder, up one side of the street and down the other. There are kids waiting for their candy shower, parents and grandparents waiting to see their family members and an entire community waiting to celebrate. Prizes are given for the best floats and, obviously, the theme is “Beef” with usually some other twist added here and there.
Live and Carcass Show
Attending the Live Show or Carcass Show at Beef Empire Days will give you a better understanding of why area cattle producers are so proud of their beef. Producers bring their top-performing cattle to be compared to those of their peers. At the Live Show, it’s fun to sit in the stands and listen to the spectators whisper to their neighbor who they think the winners will be. Watching the judges inspect cattle, decide on winners and then explain their choices to the crowd has been a valued tradition.
The 2019 Live Show Steer Division winner was a Sunbelt Feedyard steer, owned by Dale and Carol Voran, weighing 1,590 pounds. Second place went to an HRC Feedlot steer, owned by Rodney Drenon, weighing 1,440 pounds. Third place was an HRC Feedlot-owned steer weighing 1,592 pounds.
A 1,462-pound Sunbelt Feedyard heifer owned by Wesley Woods took first in the Heifer Division. Second place went to a Kinsley Feeders LLC heifer, owned by Big West Management, weighing in at 1,550 pounds; and third place went to a 1,424-pound Irsik and Doll Feedyard heifer owned by Grabbe Farms/Ragdale Ranch.
The Carcass Show might just be the most educational Beef Empire Days event with respect to beef production. Seeing how safe and proper cattle handling and feeding results in a consumable and marketable product is something every American, heck every meat eater in the world, should experience. Winner of the Carcass Show Steer Division was a Triangle H steer owned by Alan Jett. Second place went to a Triangle H steer owned by Kevin Milliken, and third place went to -77 Feeders with a steer owned by Schurrtop Angus.
Down the road
For 51 years, Beef Empire Days has been able to execute an admirable celebration and educational opportunity that encompasses the way of life for most of us in southwest Kansas. With a dedicated board, countless committee members, volunteers and a committed community, there is no doubt this celebration will continue to promote, celebrate and support the beef industry for many years to come. If you haven’t experienced how an empire celebrates, make sure you plan on attending the 2020 Beef Empire Days in Garden City.