For Block & Bridle members, its quite possibly the greatest week of the year.
Marked with cookouts, farm chores and the spirit of competition, Little North American Week is a chance for WKU students to escape campus and celebrate their love for livestock showmanship.
The annual Little North American (LNA) Livestock Showmanship Contest is a 34 year tradition at WKU.
LNA is named after the North American International Livestock Exposition, the world’s largest livestock expo held in Louisville.
The livestock showmanship contest is a tradition among Block & Bridle clubs across the country; some still going by their original name “Little I,” named after the International Livestock Expo which no longer exists.
Showmanship experience is not required for LNA participation.
In each species, members are classified in two categories: senior and junior.
Seniors are members who have experience showing that specific species while juniors are inexperienced in that species. For each animal, a senior and junior are paired and work together to prepare the animal to show.
This year’s LNA Week spanned from March 28 – April 3 but the work began long before show week.
Members drew their beef and dairy heifers in February and worked with them in their free time to teach them to lead on a halter and set up for show.
Unhaltered species (sheep, goats and pigs) and horses were worked with by students during LNA Week.
From Sunday to Saturday we live at the barn. Its not uncommon to see a member sitting on a lamb stand working on homework or walking across campus smelling like a pig.
This hard work and dedication all comes down to the pursuit of LNA’s most coveted awards: Supreme Champion Showman and Reserve Supreme Champion Showman.
Only the Grand and Reserve Champion for each species are eligible for Supreme Champion honors. These member show in a Round Robin: a round where they show all species and are scored on their performance.
The winners are announced that evening at the annual banquet. In addition to bragging rights, these two members win a banner and belt buckle. The Supreme Champion also serves as chairman for the next year’s LNA and plans the entire event.
This year, it was great to see two of my dear friends take home top honors. Wes was named Supreme Champion and freshman Kayla named Reserve Supreme Champion.
These two members have been working hard showing livestock for years and were a great help to their juniors throughout LNA Week. I couldn’t be more happy for them!
The most memorable part of my LNA experience this year, though, was working with my pig junior, Dustin.
Originally a beef showman and a proud Hereford breeder, Dustin had shown a pig once before and admitted he was clueless. In January, he asked me to partner with him for the LNA hog show and teach him how to show.
When we first began working with our gilt things didn’t look too promising. I can honestly say I’ve never worked with a more high strung pig.
I was worried for Dustin. This pig was a challenge for me to show and I had ten years of experience under my belt; there was no way that Dustin was going to be able to handle her.
I quickly realized, though, that Dustin wasn’t going to let a hard headed hog hold him back.
His patience was remarkable. He listened to my every word of advice and patiently worked with our gilt until she relaxed and became comfortable with us. Not only did he help walk her but he jumped right in the wash rack and helped me get her ready for the show.
On show day, they were the perfect team. From the make-up ring I watched proudly as my hog junior showed like a pro and drove our gilt to Grand Champion Junior Showman!
As always, the Little North American is a week full of memories. Both for seniors and juniors, upperclassmen and freshmen it is always a week of new friendships, life lessons and lots of fun.