SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Cimeron Frost started working at an Angus operation as a young boy and has been in the cattle business ever since.

“I was born in Cook County, but dad decided he wanted to raise his kids in the country, so he moved us to Lake County, which at that time was country,” Frost explained. “My dad was a farm boy, but he worked as a contractor building houses.”

Frost started working at Picket Fence Farm for Jerry Helgren.

“That was a purebred Angus operation, and they did a lot of showing,” the cattleman said. “I was about 14 years old and they put me and another guy on a boxcar with 10 bulls and we rode for two days to get to Denver for the National Western.”

Riding in a boxcar in January was quite chilly.

“I thought it was an adventure of a lifetime,” Frost recalled. “And it pretty well locked me in the cattle business, especially the purebred cattle business.”

And except for a couple of years he served in the U.S. Army, cattle have been a part of Frost’s life from then until now.

The Frost family continues to maintain a cowherd today, and the cattleman recently retired from the Illinois Beef Association, where he worked for the past 19 years.

“When I got out of the Army, I worked for Picket Fence Farm for a short time, and then I took a job with UT Farms in Oklahoma,” Frost said. “That was a great opportunity because the way they raise cattle in Oklahoma is altogether different than how we raised them in northern Illinois.”

This Angus operation also was very involved in showing cattle, and Frost traveled all over the country, including places such as Cincinnati; Houston; Louisville, Ky.; Reno, Nev.; and Minneapolis, as well as Springfield, to name a few.

“That’s how I met my wife, Rachel, while we were showing at the Illinois State Fair,” he said.

“Rachel’s dad was in the purebred Angus business, so we started as partners with him and slowly took the operation over,” the cattleman said. “Before I worked for IBA, we had 150 commercial and purebred Angus cows, and we farmed around 2,000 acres.”

In 1994, Frost was hired as the IBA vice president of member services.

“We cut back to the ground we owned and about 45 cows,” he said.

The Frosts have five children, Erin, Tony, Chelsea, Gretchen and Nathan.

“We went to a lot of junior national shows, and to me, that’s the greatest way to raise kids because they learn to take care of cattle, responsibility, work ethic and how to budget their time,” he said.

Raising and showing cattle is great for kids, Frost stressed, because the younger and older kids are all working together.

“Every now and then, the 10-year-old kid beats the 20-year-old kid, and that really makes their day,” he said. “That really motivates them to try harder and stay with it, and I think it’s a great way to raise kids.”

All five of the Frost children remain in the cattle business.

“Two of our daughters married cowboys, and Gretchen is in vet school,” he said. “And our two sons are back home taking care of the cowherd that is now at about 150 head of Angus, Hereford and commercial cows.”

Frost initially became involved with the IBA when a committee was formed to determine if it would be possible to develop an Illinois Beef Expo.

“I was the Angus representative to that committee, and at that time all the breeds were having annual sales at the fairgrounds scattered at different times,” he recalled. “We thought if we could get all these together, just think how many people would come.”

The beef expo started with just cattle sales, and it was held in Barn 13 at the state fairgrounds.

“Then the state built the livestock center with our suggestions, so it really works well for the expo,” Frost said. “After a couple of years, we added a junior show, and 500 head showed up for the show the first time we had it. The expo went from being a bunch of cow sales to an expo with sales, a junior show and trade show to make it a complete event.”

About the time Frost started working for the IBA, the group started the Ribeye Corral at the Illinois State Fair.

“I helped design and build the barn and get that organized,” he said.

“IBA didn’t have a scholarship program when I started working for them, so we got the program started and then we added the silent auction at the beef expo,” Frost added. “That auction is how we fund our scholarship program, and Susan Head has done a great job of getting donated items rounded up, put on display and she gets it all sorted out when the auction is over.”

With the consolidation of the IBA and the Illinois Beef Council in 1997, Frost was named the IBA vice president of producer services and, in 2001, director of industry programs.

Over the years, he said, the IBA has assisted with several programs that focused on what producers needed at the time.

“We did Beef 2000 for a number of years with the U of I,” he said. “That’s when producers really needed to understand what a beef carcass is made of because grids were first getting started.”

The Farm to Plate program for cattle feeders is another example of an important program.

“This program showed producers how the different breeds fed out,” the cattleman said.

Frost also enjoyed working with the IBA summer interns.

“It was fun to work with these young people with new ideas and enthusiasm,” he said. “A couple of the girls started as interns, and they have come back to help us again and again with the expo and ribeye corral.”

Although he has retired from the IBA, Frost does not expect to be bored.

“The boys may expand the cowherd some more, so there will be a lot of hay to bale and bales to move,” he said.

And he will remain involved with the Heartland Beef Alliance.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working for the cattlemen, and I appreciate them giving me a job and the opportunity to work for them,” he said. “I don’t know how I could have done anything else that could have been more pleasurable.”