Sale of Champions sets record

By Nicole Cooke

August 17, 2014

The Missouri State Fair celebrated kids on Saturday with Youth in Agriculture Day, including the annual Sale of Champions, which had record-breaking prices and raised $152,600 to help support youth in agriculture.

Several record-breaking sales were made during the event, including a record $34,500 for Grace Riley’s Reserve Grand Champion Steer. Riley, 13, of Pleasant Hill, not only made a record sale, but she also made it to the sale for the first time with her 1,280-pound Crossbred steer for the first time.

“It was nerve-wracking, but once I was up there I felt right at home,” she told the Democrat after her sale. Riley, who has been showing steer for six years, said she was “thrilled, I’ve never broken a record before.”

“I came in here not thinking I’d do this well, but overall it’s been one of my best years, with my confidence in the ring and with my steer,” she said.

Riley and her brother, Noah, have been working with the prize-winning steer all summer, waking up at 6 a.m. each day to wash and brush the animal.

“It takes a lot of hard work, and hard work pays off,” Riley said.

During her speech after the purchase of her steer, Riley made sure to thank everyone on her showing team, especially Noah.

“I’m very proud,” April Riley, Grace’s mother, said. “I know how much work she and Noah do. And she’s sincere when she gives credit to her brother, they’re both out there working. Knowing they’re both out there working hard makes me proud. I heard her say she wasn’t expecting this, but I know she worked for this.”

Along with the record-breaking price, Riley also had the buyer who traveled the farthest distance — Vince Restucci, of Meridian, Idaho, representing R. D. Offutt Co., of Fargo, N.D., purchased Riley’s steer, along with Youth in Agriculture and hometown supporters. Restucci said the Riley family is a large supplier for the company and in turn the Restucci and R. D. Offutt Co., is a big supporter of the Rileys, so they “wanted to do our part to support Missouri agriculture.”

“We’re a six generation farming organization and we want to see younger kids get involved in positive experiences in agriculture, that’s the biggest thing that drove me here is to show support,” Restucci said. Our CEO’s son is at Mizzou and Tim (Grace Riley’s father) is a MU fan, so we thought it was a fitting tribute to donate her steer to the MU football team.

Riley wasn’t the only competitor to set a record this year. Bryce Schmidt, of Maryville, exhibited the Grand Champion Market Lamb that was purchased for a record price of $19,100 by BTC Bank of Bethany, Gallatin, Albany, Pattonsburg, Chillicothe, & Carrollton, Mo., and Lamoni, Iowa, and the Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation of Chillicothe, along with Youth in Agriculture and hometown supporters. Bryce’s 135-pound Crossbred lamb was donated to the Missouri FFA Leadership Fund.

John Schenkel, of Maryville, showed the Reserve Champion Market Lamb. John’s Hampshire lamb weighed 139 pounds and was purchased for a record price of $12,500 by Purina Animal Nutrition/Honor Show Chow, DuPont Pioneer and supporting Pioneer sales professionals. The lamb was donated to the Missouri FFA Leadership Fund.

The money will be used to benefit Missouri youth involved in agriculture. Since 1992, the Missouri State Fair Youth in Agriculture Committee has awarded scholarships totaling $400,500. Applications for the 2014 YIA scholarships will be available on the Missouri State Fair website in November, and applications will be due by Feb. 1, 2015.