Junior Livestock Sale celebrates 50 years of supporting youth in agriculture

Kyndal Reitzenstein (far right) proudly shows off her grand champion steer, Otto, at the Colorado State Fair’s 2013 Junior Livestock Sale in Pueblo.

Kyndal Reitzenstein (far right) proudly shows off her grand champion steer, Otto, at the Colorado State Fair’s 2013 Junior Livestock Sale in Pueblo.

For the eighth year in a row, Tri-State, the Colorado Rural Electric Association and the rest of Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives were well represented at the Colorado State Fair (Pueblo, Colo.) in support of the 4-H and Future Farmers of America kids participating in the annual Junior Livestock Sale (Aug. 27).

Kyndal Reitzenstein, a 19-year-old from Kersey in Weld County – whose family’s ranch is powered by Tri-State member co-op Poudre Valley REA – walked away as the event’s big winner after her grand champion steer sold for a record amount of $57,000. “This is my last year competing,” Reitzenstein said with a bit of nostalgia, prior to watching her 1,335-pound bovine go to the high bidder, Pueblo businessman Sam Brown.

“His name is Otto [the steer], but there should be an ‘L’ in front of his name because he hit the jackpot,” quipped Nick Bonham, who covered the event for the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper.

Tri-State communications department personnel worked with their member co-op colleagues on pre-event sponsorship planning activities, while a number of executive staff members – including Ken Anderson, Ken Reif and Barbara Walz – participated with the Denver Rustlers buying group, a team of Colorado civic/business leaders and politicians led by Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton.

Prospective sellers (left) meet and greet prospective buyers (right) outside the arena before the bidding begins.

Prospective sellers (left) meet and greet prospective buyers (right) outside the arena before the bidding begins.

“Colorado’s 4-H and FFA youth work tirelessly throughout the year to earn a spot in this show,” said State Fair general manager Chris Wiseman. “We would like to thank our generous sponsors and bidders for their participation in the sale. They are instrumental in making it a success.”

This year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Junior Livestock Sale, while also marking the fair’s 141st year as the state’s premier celebration of agriculture. This year’s auction generated nearly $452,000 for the youth exhibitors – pushing the total raised over the half-century to $8.25 million, the majority of which is put toward the kids’ higher education pursuits.

Zachary Griffith made a triumphant entrance into the show ring with his champion hog, following a long road to recovery from serious injuries suffered in an ATV accident last November.

Zachary Griffith made a triumphant entrance into the show ring with his champion hog, following a long road to recovery from serious injuries suffered in an ATV accident last November.

One special story that played out involved 11-year-old Zachary Griffith from Brush, Colo., whose grandfather, Casper Hergenreter, serves on the Morgan County REA board of directors. Zach was seriously injured in an ATV accident near his family’s dairy farm last November and was airlifted to Denver where he was hospitalized for a month while being treated for a broken leg, skull fracture and serious brain injury.

He then endured 97 days of rehabilitation work at Children’s Hospital in Aurora, before being released to rejoin his family and friends in eastern Colorado. Part of Zach’s ongoing recovery efforts were focused on the Junior Livestock Sale and raising what turned out to be a 275-pound champion market hog, which sold at the fair for $2,700 – a great victory for a courageous young man.

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