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 trailer.”

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.