I never had the opportunity to attend the Chicago
International Livestock Show, which was at the International Amphitheater
adjacent to the Union Stockyards. This prestigious show attracted exhibitors of
swine, cattle, sheep, draft horses and poultry from 1900 to 1975.
During the 15th annual Stockyard Collector’s Auction, three
cattlemen who attended the International show for many years recalled some of
their memories of this annual event. In addition to listening to their
presentations, attendees had the opportunity to purchase a variety of stockyard
memorabilia, including items such a Stockyard Inn glasses, books, International
posters and advertising pieces.
Chuck Shada attended the show for the first time when he was
10 years old, and he still remembers the size of the amphitheater and the work
it took to get to the show with their cattle. Traveling to the Chicago show
began on Tuesday after school, said Shada, who lives near Anamosa, Iowa.
“We’d load the semi — cattle in front and tack in the back,”
he said. “Once we got to Chicago, we’d tie the calves in the barn, and we slept
in our sleeping bags right in the straw.”
Some of Shada’s fondest memories of his annual trip to the
Chicago show are from 50 years ago, when the judge slapped his Shorthorn steer
for grand champion of the junior show. Just 14 years old, he didn’t know exactly
what was going on, but it was exciting.
“The two things I remember most was my dad who comes running
out in the arena and they handed him the trophy, which was a cup,” Shada said.
“The second thing was there were 19 Shorthorn Lassies that were dressed in
Scottish garments and everyone gave me a hug or kiss and I kinda liked that.”
Bob May’s dad, Harry, won the carcass show at the
International three years in a row in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. He also
talked about the size of the event and the fact that he spent many Thanksgiving
Days at the stockyards taking care of their animals.
“In my lifetime, I’ve never met a man that I had more
respect for than my dad,” he said.
“We had a two-ton GMC truck with high livestock racks, and
we’d put the show box on top,” said May, who lives near Mineral Point, Wis. “We
headed to Chicago, and it seemed like it took three days to get there.”
Ralph Danner’s father showed at the Chicago International
from 1950 to 1971.
“In 1970, dad had the Reserve Grand Champion load, and they
were 1,160-pound cattle, which were the end of the smaller cattle,” said the
cattleman from Muscatine, Iowa.
He talked about trips to Cody, Neb., with his dad to
purchase feeder cattle. Since this was before interstates were built, the cattle
were shipped to Iowa on a train.
“I was 5 years old, and Cody was no more than a wide spot in
the road,” the cattleman recalled. “The cattle would come into West Liberty,
Iowa, they were unloaded at the stockyards and we hauled them home on a flat
I really enjoyed the memories the cattlemen shared about
their International experiences. I bet these three guys could have spent the
whole night talking about the impact this event had on their lives — and I would
have continued to listen.