Apr. 19—For a few hours on Saturday evening, cattle took over Moro Street during the inaugural Aggieville Showdown, a first-of-its-kind exhibition.
Organizers closed off Moro from North Manhattan Avenue to 12th Street, setting up a makeshift stage and ring for a western-inspired fashion show, live performances and a cattle show.
More than 200 entrants across the region competed at the Riley County Fairgrounds earlier in the day in showmanship, market beef and breeding heifer categories, with the top handful moving on to show their cattle in Aggieville. Depending on the category, judges assessed how exhibitors presented their animals, the quality of beef that animals would represent and maternal characteristics for breeding.
About 200 to 300 spectators observed the event, according to Dennis Cook, director of the Aggieville Business Association.
Organizers had initially planned to debut the event in 2020, but they put the idea on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. Saturday marked one of the first large organized, non-sporting events to take place in Manhattan since last year, a way to show to the wider public what happens in the industry.
Madison Loschke, 23, of Ford County, who won grand champion in showmanship, said she takes the work seriously and growing up on a 250-count commercial calf-cow operation, she's always had a love for cows.
"I am probably one of the most passionate people you'll ever meet about showmanship," Madison said. "I also grew up showing horses, and I think that's where (my passion) comes from. My family also shows horses, and I really focus on the small details.
"The way you're dressed is important, the way your hair looks, even if you're a boy, those things are all important and the way you present yourself. It's important to have confidence when you walk out there. You have to be there to want to win. You have to want it more than anybody else in that ring.
"You also have to do the homework at home, and make sure your animal is set up and ready to go and knows how to hit the ring and do the things you need it to do."
Dax Siebert, 11, of Pawnee County, also went on to win grand champion in the market steers division with his Simmental. He also placed fourth overall with another of his steers.
The top winners took home prize money, with first place earning $5,000.
Jackie Sleichter, 17, of Dickinson County won the grand champion title for breeding heifer with her Chianina and said the achievement was something she strives for in her work every day, and taking first meant that that dedication she'd applied and advice from others had paid off.
"This experience has been absolutely incredible," Sleichter said. "Never did I think I'd ever be in the middle of ... Aggieville showing a cow, let alone a grand champion heifer. I was shaking when it happened. Honestly I'm still shaking now."