Best of the best livestock at the Governor's Blue Ribbon Auction at Wisconsin State Fair

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer

WEST ALLIS - From the first tap on a steer's hip, emotion exploded on the Case IH Coliseum floor as judges selected grand and reserve champions for the 2019 Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction on Aug. 7. Exhibitors on the floor as well as parents sitting up in the stands, wiped away tears of joy. The outward emotion marking the culmination of months of early mornings, late nights and hard work in preparing their animals for the Wisconsin State Fair. 

Swine judge Brian Anderson emotionally addressed the crowd, applauding the youth kneeling with their hogs on the floor around him.

"We need these livestock to raise these kids," Anderson said. "The absolute best way you can spend your money is to spend it on these kids right here. ...there is no better display of the youth in Wisconsin."

Riley Runkel, of Burlington, poses with her grand champion steer, a 1,333 pound Maine-Anjou, bought by Meijer for $47,500 at the Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction at the Wisconsin State Fair on Aug. 7.

And spend they did, as buyers packed around the Bayer Stage inside the coliseum sent bids upwards Wednesday night.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Brad Pfaff had one request of the buyers, "bid often and bid high." because as Governor Tony Evers said, "this is a night that is all about the kids."

"The future of agriculture is sitting up on this stage," Evers said. "Think about the young people who have worked so hard getting their animals ready for this event. So, please, please, play a big role in this."

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Bids rose quickly as Riley Runkel of Burlington, set up her grand champion steer, a 1,333-pound Maine-Anjou named Trippy, on the stage. For Runkel and many exhibitors at the Governor's Blue Ribbon Auction, the money would go toward her college fund. The winning bid of $47,500 came from Meijer food stores.

Auctioneer Gary Finley auctions the reserve grand champion steer owned by Lauren May of Mineral Point during the Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction at the Wisconsin State Fair on Aug. 7. The crossbred steer sold for $22,500.

While Runkel, her family and Meijer representatives posed for photos, Logan Schmitz, of Mineral Point, brought his grand champion barrow, a 261-pound crossbred onto the stage. Parading the barrow across the stage Schmitz lifted his arm, encouraging bidders until Beer Capital Distributing claimed the highest bid at $14,000. 

Trenna Cherney, of Wonewoc, who helped kick off the auction by singing the National Anthem, held onto her grand champion market lamb, a 142-pound crossbred, as auctioneer Bill Stade joked, "She wants $50, but I'll take $25,000" to start off the bidding.

Trenna Cherney, of Wonewoc, sings the National Anthem as the Wisconsin State FFA color guard presents the flags at the Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction on Aug. 7.

"We don't care where you start it, it's where you end that counts," Stade said. Bidding for the grand champion market lamb ended at $7,500 from Great Lakes Coca-Cola. 

Reserve grand champions included Lauren May, of Mineral Point, with the reserve grand champion steer that went for $20,000, buyer Kenosha Beef International ; Chase Cherney, from LaValle, with the reserve grand champion barrow that sold for $8,000, buyer Statewide Fencing and Jacee Johnson, from Delavan, whose reserve grand champion market lamb sold to We Energies for $8,000. 

Each year more than 600 exhibitors compete for a coveted spot in the Blue Ribbon Auction. 

Logan Schmitz, of Mineral Point, walks his grand champion barrow on the stage for the Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction on Aug. 7 at the Wisconsin State Fair. The barrow sold for $14,000.

For complete Blue Ribbon Auction results visit

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at