Aksarben kicks off fall show season – Midwest Messenger

The 96th Aksarben Stock Show, presented by the Aksarben Foundation, gets underway at Fonner Park in Grand Island Thursday Sept. 21. Competitors from 14 Midwestern states will be showing this week including Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, North and South Dakota, Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

“I believe Aksarben is one of the best stock shows in the nation,” said Vaughn Sievers, agriculture d rector of Aksarben Stock Show. “It is the kickoff to the national fall series. First Aksarben, then American Royal (Kansas City), North American International (Louisville), Arizona National (Phoenix), and the National Western Stock Show in Denver. Our entrants love the show and competing with the best of the best.”

The show was established in 1928 by the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben with a mission of “producing an annual youth livestock show celebrating the region’s agricultural heritage which educates and benefi ts families.” The Aksarben Stock Show moved from Omaha to Grand Island, Nebraska in 2017 while celebrating its 90th anniversary. The additional barn space available in Grand Island was an important consideration. Since its move, show attendance has almost doubled with nearly 200,000 guests attending the show and more than 7,000 youth participants over its time in Grand Island.

Participants in the Aksarben Stock Show are 9-18 years of age and draw attention from college recruiters. Fifteen colleges and universities will be represented during College Days at the show. Improvements for the 2023 event include the addition of new breeding judges and premium payments for the breeding champions. In the past, there were no premiums for champion breeding animals.

Aksarben Stock Show has a new manager in 2023. Nebraska native Jacque Johnson, a graduate of University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will manage the show and work to keep tabs on the more than 3,300 head of beef, swine, goats, sheep and broilers on the grounds. A growing part of the program, Aksarben, Beyond the Show Ring, includes a game zone, study space, movie theater, Agtivity Acres education component for younger attendees, college fair, cowboy church, and an antique tractor display.

Sprout’s Day Out is a program produced by UNL and Raising Nebraska at Aksarben for youth 6-8 and includes education programs such as Agriculture All Around Me, Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli, and Worms! There is a $6 fee to participate in Sprout’s Day Out.

Stock show winners in 2023 will receive part of a $115,000 scholarship and premium prize fund administered by the Aksarben Foundation. “Over and over again, we hear Aksarben is a very deep and quality show,” said Sievers. “We are proud of that, and we are excited for people to come watch.” There is no admission charge to view the Aksarben Stock Show. The Aksarben Stock Show is produced by the Nebraska State Fair and presented by the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben.