WIU Ag major matches Illinois State Fair record during Sale of Champions
MACOMB, Ill. – Not only did Western Illinois University senior agriculture major Ashtin Guyer, of Flat Rock, IL, show this year’s Illinois State Fair Grand Champion Market Steer, her entry also created a bidding war between Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, and his wife, MK, to purchase her entry, “King,” which ended by matching a fair record of $105,000.
In addition to the grand champion steer, Guyer also exhibited the Grand Champion Gilt and the Reserve Supreme Heifer at this year’s fair competitions.
“Our family had a great week at the state fair,” said Guyer. “My sister also exhibited the Champion Land of Lincoln Market Lamb. To say this week was nothing short of amazing would be an understatement. We are so grateful, thankful and blessed to be a part of an industry that pushes you to work hard and show you that hard work will pay off.”
Guyer and her family have worked toward these livestock goals for many years and it was this year when “all the stars aligned.”
“My family and I have been in the livestock industry ever since I can remember,” she said. “Both my parents, Dave and Lucy Guyer, grew up showing livestock, so the passion for this industry was instilled in my sister and I at a very young age. I began my career in the show ring at age 6, when I showed my first heifer at the North American in Louisville, KY. Since then my family has been very fortunate and blessed in the show ring.”
For at least the past two years, Governor Pritzker and his wife have bid against each other in the Illinois State Fair Governor’s Sale of Champions to buy the champion steer. This year’s $105,000 winning bid matched the record amount bid for last year’s champion steer, also placed by MK Pritzker.
“Standing up there on the platform, I had a front row seat to watching the bid off,” said Guyer. “I have often been asked what it’s like to win something like this, and my answer is always that it’s an unexplainable feeling. The flood of emotion is something that cannot be expressed. I have been showing livestock since I was 6 years old and now, at 21, we finally checked this big goal we’ve had for a long time off the bucket list. I cannot even begin to thank my family and all those who are involved because without them, and the good Lord, none of this would be possible.”
Guyer said she and her sister, Nalaney, have exhibited cattle, pigs and sheep at the county, state and national levels for many years. She said over that time she has realized that it’s important to realize others are observing.
“One thing I can say to anyone is to never forget that you are a role model for those to come; little eyes are always watching,” Guyer said. “This is something I hold very close to my heart more now as I get older. I want to show them that when you reach for the stars great things can happen, and although I am about to age out at the age of 21, there is no doubt that I am going to be as involved if not more involved in this industry. I want to help them achieve those goals, and let them know that I will always be there to cheer them on.”
Guyer added that being a part of showing livestock over the years has brought her support from a variety of unexpected directions.
“The livestock industry is one that I would encourage anyone to be a part of because I can guarantee you will find your best friends here, all who will support you no matter what,” she said. “I can say with confidence that this industry has brought me those friends, and I would do anything for each and every one of them. It has also taught me the importance of work ethic, drive and passion for something I love so much.”
The sale of champions was emotional for Guyer, she said, in part because her grandfather surprised her by showing up at the Illinois State Fair unexpectedly after health concerns nearly kept him home.
“The feeling of knowing that was the last time I would step foot in the ring at the ISF, the last time grabbing the halter of a steer, and also having my grandpa sitting in the front row meant the world to me,” she said. “This show will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am so blessed to be part of an industry that has taught me everything I know.”
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