A European crossbred steer named Bob Marley hit all the right notes with judges as the heavyweight claimed the Fort Worth Stock Show’s grand champion title on what would have been his namesake’s 70th birthday.
Bob Marley’s triumph also stretched the string of grand champion victories for European crosses to 33 consecutive years.
The brownish red Maine-Anjou-Chianina cross was shown by Madilyn Priesmeyer, 17, a senior at Austin’s Hyde Park High School and a member of the Round Rock 4-H.
Reserve grand champion steer J.Z. was shown by Myka Blissard, an eighth grader at Borden County School. The runner-up is not named after rap artist Jay Z; his steer brother is called J.J.
Both steers will be sold at the annual Sale of Champions on Saturday, the Fort Worth Stock Show’s final day.
“I’m very excited; I’m actually in shock,” said Priesmeyer as Bob Marley tugged at his halter.
She named the steer after the Reggae icon “because when he was younger, he had long ear hair and when we would wash him, it curled.”
Besides his distinctive music and unruly hair, the Jamaican singer was passionate about marijuana.
However, Bob Marley the steer is not believed to be of the grass-fed variety.
‘Ideal market weight’
Bob Marley weighed in at a slight 1,344 pounds for the heavyweight division, but show judge Dan Shike of Illinois liked what he saw.
“This steer has so many intangibles,” Shike said as he described the animal. “His shape and power — he’s the ideal market weight.”
Heavyweight steers can weigh as much as 1,567 pounds.
“We’ve talked about weight a lot today, but I believe the optimum market weight for a steer today is about 1,400 pounds,” Shike said. “If you look at the feedlot industry, that is an acceptable weight.
Priesmeyer is keeping a family tradition alive: her father, Ed Priesmeyer, showed the grand champion steer at the Fort Worth Stock Show in 1986. His sister Victoria exhibited the grand champion two years later in 1988.
And her brother Blake Priesmeyer also showed a steer on Friday.
“This is her last show,” Ed Priesmeyer said of his beaming daughter. “She had a champion Hereford here in 2006 during her first year of showing, but not much luck since then.”
Priesmeyer’s mom Jami and grandfather Joe Hay of Corpus Christi looked on as the celebratory pictures were taken with Bob Marley in the arena. Hay is a retired junior high school math teacher with no livestock leanings except through his son-in-law.
Mandi Maddox, of Bonham Show Cattle, dabbed at tears after the announcement. She sold the calf to Priesmeyer.
Priesmeyer said she hopes to attend Texas State University in San Marcos, though she hasn’t settled on a major yet.
The little guy
The reserve grand champion steer was shown by 13-year-old Myka Blissard of Big Spring. Her black European crossbred steer, J.Z., took second place despite being smaller than his competitors in the ring.
“There’s one out here that is a little too little. But he’s a little too good to leave out,” Shike told the excited crowd in the Watt Arena, referring to Blissard’s 1,220 pound steer.
When asked how she was going to celebrate her impressive finish, Blissard gushed.
“I don’t know. I didn’t know this was going to happen,” she said.
But Shike did.
“Everything about him is nearly ideal, except for his weight. He’s so stout and has so much muscle and rib. He’s a very balanced, very sound steer,” said Shike, who is from Sadorus, Ill. “He’s just a little lighter than today’s industry likes.”
Now comes the big sale
Up next for Preismeyer is a hefty payday at Saturday’s Sale of Champion, which features the top livestock from the junior shows.
Last year’s grand champion steer sold for $200,000.
Besides steers, barrows, lambs and goats will be sold at the sale in the West Arena.
The grand champion lamb and goat were chosen last weekend, but the Junior Barrow Show grand champion was named Friday afternoon.
The big pig was shown by 13-year-old Mikala Grady of Grandview, who is a seventh grader at Grandview Junior High School. She showed a 265-pound crossbred barrow (also known as a “blue butt”). Grady, who has been showing barrows for five years, has also had success showing steers.
“He was just the best one here. It’s that simple,” said judge Jayme Sieren of Keota, Iowa, explaining why top honors went to Grady’s barrow. “He was the soundest and most complete one in the show.”
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657
If you go
The 2015 Sale of Champions, which features the top junior steers, barrows, lambs and goats, begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the West Arena.
Last year’s sale brought a record $3.3 million in prize money to the junior exhibitors.