Blog post written by: Mariah Messink, 2019 National Ms Agriculture USA
Twas' the night before North American and all through the house, not a creature was stirring
not even the show mom, the boots were lined up by the door with great care in hopes that green shavings would be deep there. The exhibitors nestled all anxious in their beds, visions of banners and buckles danced in their heads. Momma in her bling and I in my pearl snap had just settled in for a short pre-show nap.
In November Miss Agriculture USA was able to offer the opportunity to participate in award distribution at NAILE with the blessing and encouragement of the Kentucky Exposition Center directors to program participants . Miss Agriculture USA queens from across the United States traveled to Louisville, Kentucky volunteering at the North American International Livestock Exposition. Our queens witnessed some of the best livestock in the nation hit the green shavings to compete for coveted top placings. As avid agriculturalists we can appreciate the beauty of each animal and the intricate planning and adjusting it takes to present their best aesthetics in the show ring.
Though the livestock brought through the threshold of the expo center was mind blowing, the people who own, show, fit, support, and care for them were the real stars of the show. We were so blessed to shake hands with and speak with so many amazing people in Louisville. My personal favorite memory was getting to shake hands with an agricultural legend and all around great person, Mr. Warren Beeler. Mr. Beeler better known as "Mr. Agriculture" for his comprehensive accolades as the Executive Director of Kentucky Agriculture Policy and a beloved livestock judge is a familiar face for many. Shaking his hand as a Miss Agriculture USA queen brought everything full circle for me having interacted with him as 4H youth swine showman, county pork industry queen, collegiate livestock judging student, and now as a National Miss Agriculture USA queen. Agriculture is truly a family and it is nice to take this journey with the same familiar faces and kind hearts along the way. A handful of our Ohio county Miss Agriculture USA queens were pleased to pose for a purple banner photo with the family that has become known as cattle royalty, the Lautner's. Nothing makes me happier than to see our younger queens with a sparkle in their eye looking at the opportunities within their reach. So many of the people we met and reunited with in Louisville inspired greatness and perseverance within us. We owe a very hefty thank you to the photographers that showed us great kindness and professionalism, the livestock show staff, and the breed organization queens. We are so grateful, thankful, and blessed to have been welcomed as a part of the 2019 North American International Livestock Exposition.
"NAILE, the world's largest all-breed purebred livestock exposition, features more than 140 competitions with nearly 30,000 entries in 10 divisions: beef cattle, boer goats, dairy cattle, dairy goats, draft horses, llamas and alpacas, market swine, mules and donkeys, quarter horses, and sheep. NAILE welcomes more than 200,000 visitors from 48 states and two dozen foreign countries. NAILE is so much more than livestock shows and competitions. The Exposition offers a championship rodeo, giant general store, sale of champions, collegiate and youth livestock judging contests, and educational programming for student and teachers." (www.livestockexpo.org)
While not handing out ribbons and banners for the moment, I had the opportunity to network and browse in the giant general store. As an ongoing joke within my family for the last decade, all of my Christmas shopping is done after a visit to NAILE. The western store is an experience in itself. Rustic decor? Livestock Supplies? Western apparel? Did I mention the fudge? You can find it all and so much more in the store at North American. I've been asked if I have any advice for your first trip to NAILE as a visitor.
1.) Come hungry! There is plenty to eat inside the expo center. The state breed associations have booths selling hot sandwiches and other delicacies. Ehrler's ice cream is a must! My favorite is butter pecan.
2.) Wear comfortable non-slip shoes. Don't doubt how much walking you will do within the expansive expo center. The last thing you want to do is slide through a cow patty on your way to your car.
3.) If you plan to shop make a budget for yourself. If you love western decor and apparel you will find absolutely everything you could want under one roof.
4.) Connect with the visitors center prior to make sure that you do not miss our on any events that interest you including rodeo tickets.
5.) After a long day at NAILE make sure to stop by Mark's Feed Store in Louisville, KY for a BBQ dinner.
I'm so thankful to have met so many wonderful people who had questions and positive feedback about the Miss Agriculture USA program. I'm forever grateful for the mutual respect and love shared between our program and that of Miss Rodeo. The ladies of Miss Rodeo Kentucky were eager to greet us and snap a few photos doing what we love most. If you haven't had the opportunity to grace the green shavings at the Kentucky Expo Center of the North American International Livestock Exposition you should begin planning for 2020 now. I'd be happy to tag along and show you around.
Miss Agriculture USA love and mine,
Mariah Ann Messink
2019 National Ms. Agriculture USA