Dallam County teen’s steer ‘Leadfoot’ is the 2024 junior champion at Fort Worth Stock Show

Winning steer shows runs in the family for the Bezners of Dallam County.

Thirty-three years after her father, Stephen Benzer took home the prize at Fort Worth’s Junior Steer Show, Elli Benzer won the coveted prize herself at the 2024 competition Friday.

The 17-year-old and her European cross breed steer named Leadfoot triumphed after two days of deliberations in a field with 1,616 other contenders.

But Leadfoot stuck out from the beginning.

“He walked in and it’s almost like the Fort Worth coliseum lights shined a little brighter on him,” said Mark Hoge, judge of the Stock Show’s 2024 junior steer competition. “He is just perfectly groomed, perfect feet, perfect structure. Perfect muscularity. Just everything about him, he wanted to be a superstar.”

Elli’s father said watching her and Leadfoot win was an even better feeling than when he won in 1991.

“There’s pure elation, pure joy, pure unbelief,” Stephen said.

Tears ran down Elli’s eyes when she was reunited with her father on the red dirt of the Will Rogers Coliseum over a long hug.

“I always looked up to him,” Ellie told the Star Telegram.

Elli also said that she named her steer after a nickname her father had given both of them.

“My dad said I had a lead foot and so did he. So that’s always been his name,” Elli said.

Saturday morning, Leadfoot will be auctioned off during the Junior Sale of Champions at Watt Arena in the Will Rogers center. The proceeds will go toward Elli’s college education.

The auction record has been shattered each of the last two years.

In February 2023, Sadie Wampler of Canyon watched as her grand champion steer “Snoop Dog” sold for a whopping $440,000 to Fort Wort-based insurance and financial broker group Higginbotham & Associates.

The 2022 Grand Champion, a black cross named Steve, sold for $310,000, which beat a record set in 2021 by just $10,000.

This weekend’s competition and auction caps off the 23 days of shows, rodeos and other events at the Stock Show, where ranchers, farmers, trainers and livestock traders have flocked to Fort Worth each year since the late 1800s.