Showing friendship, family, cows

SE MN All-Breeds Youth Dairy Show celebrates 20 years


Amy Kyllo/Dairy Star

Kayla Sexton (left) and Sue Krahn show one of the T-shirt quilts June 17 as it was auctioned at the Southeast Minnesota All-Breeds Youth Dairy Show at the Winona County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, Minnesota. The quilts were made from past show T-shirts to celebrate the 20th year of the show. 


ST. CHARLES, Minn. – Two rings filled with kids and their cows grace one of the first sawdust red carpets of the year at the Winona County Fairgrounds in St. Charles. From the bleachers, parents, grandparents and community members watch the spectacle. In the back of the barn, animals relax as a last-second fitting, puffs of fly spray and a stubborn heifer complete the scene.

The event is the Southeast Minnesota All-Breeds Youth Dairy Show. The show, which started in 2003, celebrated 20 years this year with a show June 17.

The show caters to youth up to 21 years of age and features classes for all of the major breeds.

Linda Kruse, one of the founders of the show, was on hand to help with the celebration and competition. Kruse gives credit for the show’s launch 20 year ago to Karyl Diersen, who had lived in Michigan and experienced dairy shows focused on showmanship that were not connected to the state or county fairs. From her experiences there, Diersen wanted to do something similar in Minnesota.

Diersen and a group of friends asked around if there was interest, and the show was born.

Because the show is always early in the season, Kruse said it allows participants to get their animals out and see how competitive they are.

Four counties in southeast Minnesota take turns hosting the event. The host county contributes extra volunteers for the all-volunteer event. Donations cover financial needs. The show is just one day, making it easier for people to participate.

For Kruse, one of the main motivators for still volunteering for the show 20 years later is the friendship and community for the children.

“It’s just a good time for the kids to get to know each other again from the other counties,” she said.

Hope Nelson, one of the planners this year and a long-time participant in the show, said some of her longest friendships are with people she showed with.

For Nelson, the heart of friendship and showmanship that the show exudes is consistent with her own experiences with the show.

“I loved seeing my friends,” she said. “I loved going out for showmanship. That was always my biggest goal … to do well in showmanship.”

Today, Nelson is taking her love of showing and giving back to a show that played a part in her story. She respects the group of people who plan the show.

“You can tell how passionate they are about making sure that there’s a community who’s involved in the dairy industry,” Nelson said.

Kruse appreciates people like Nelson.

Amy Kyllo/Dairy Star

Hailey Schultz helps her daughter Harper lead her calf in the novice calf category June 17 at the Southeast Minnesota All-Breeds Youth Dairy Show at the Winona County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, Minnesota. The show is for youth up to 21 years of age.


“It’s nice,” Kruse said. “Now we’ve seen some that have graduated out helping us.”

Stacy Leiding, another original organizer, has also seen how the show brings community to her life.

“The friendships the kids make, ... those are the lifetime friends,” she said. “I can attest to that. ... The people I work with on this committee I grew up with showing cattle.”

Her own daughter, Kayla (Leiding) Sexton, once participated in the show and is now volunteering. Leiding said she appreciates watching her daughter join in.

“It really touches my heart because I’m just really proud of the children that I raised and the lifestyle that we’ve had,” Leiding said. “To see them actively take part ... is very rewarding for me. It just really touches my heart that they enjoy those things still at this stage.”

For Leiding, one of the reasons she continues to volunteer is watching kids come from year to year and grow and improve in their skills.

This year, the show featured novice calf, four levels of showmanship, regular age classes, senior and junior champion for each breed, and senior and junior supreme champion for each breed.

The supreme senior champion was Lucas Redalen with a Jersey 3-year-old. The supreme junior champion was Bryce Kieffer with a Red and White Holstein fall calf.

In honor of its 20th year, three T-shirt quilts were auctioned off in the morning. The quilts featured samples of show shirts participants received in the past. The quilts were made by the Porch Ladies, a group of women with agricultural backgrounds who meet for friendship in east central Minnesota. Each lap quilt sold for $140-$145.

Mike Tveten was one of the quilt buyers. He purchased it for his parents, Dave and Kristi Tveten.

Dave and Kristi milk 30 cows near Lewiston. Their family has been involved with the Southeast Minnesota All-Breeds Youth Dairy Show since the beginning.

It started with their youngest daughter showing, and now eight grandchildren show. The show, which started a family tradition, has been good for their family, Kristi said. 

Today, because the Tvetens have a limited number of cows, their grandchildren get to show just one animal each.

For Kristi, her favorite part of the show has been seeing her grandchildren take an interest in showing.

“They work together, they play together, they enjoy each other and (they) get to know one another when they’re doing it,” she said.

Once the show is done, the whole family finishes the day at the Tvetens’ farm.

Dave said the Southeast Minnesota All-Breeds Youth Dairy Show will continue to be a great opportunity for youth and families.

“It’s just going to keep getting better and better all the time and bigger and bigger,” he said.

Next year’s show will be hosted by Houston County and will be held in Caledonia.


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