Timothy G. Page, Merrill, Thomas A.
BATON ROUGE – Thousands of youngsters from across the state are headed for the LSU AgCenter’s 69th annual Livestock Show starting this weekend and running throughout next week.
This year’s Feb. 7-14 events have a new home at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. The move was necessitated by the LSU master plan, which calls for demolition of a portion of the livestock barns on campus in Baton Rouge to make way for an emerging technology center and improved traffic flow into the campus.
"We think the new facilities offer a lot of advantages for the young people and adults who participate in our livestock show," said LSU AgCenter Chancellor William B. "Bill" Richardson. "And we know this year’s livestock show is still going to offer everyone the same chance to see excellent young people and high quality livestock."
The 4,000 young people and the 5,000 to 6,000 animals that are expected to be a part of this year’s show already have competed in parish and district livestock shows across Louisiana. They are coming to South Louisiana with the hopes of being named state champions in this show.
Richardson points out that while the event is called a livestock show, it’s really about much more.
"Sure, we pick champion animals, but our livestock shows are much more about the part they play in helping young people to develop their full potential," Richardson explained, adding, "In a way, showing the dedication it takes to raise animals is an important part of all these young people becoming champions."
Judges at the LSU AgCenter Livestock Show determine state champions in various breeds of beef and dairy cattle, goats, hogs, poultry and sheep.
In addition, six young people will be selected to receive Gerry Lane Premier Exhibitor Awards in a competition based on their knowledge of livestock. These annual awards were made possible by a $60,000 endowment donated in 1998 by Gerry Lane Enterprises of Baton Rouge.
Those winners, as well as winners of scholarships and other awards, will be honored during a ceremony and reception at 5 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Lamar-Dixon Center’s reception hall.
This year's show is dedicated to Mansel and Pearl Slaughter of Baker – who have for many years been dedicated supporters of the LSU AgCenter, particularly when it comes to youth livestock shows – and the reception also will be in their honor.
The young people and accompanying adults who venture to South Louisiana for the show also will have opportunities to visit the LSU campus during their stay. Some of them will have a chance to attend an LSU men’s basketball game on Feb. 7, and livestock show winners and participants will be honored guests at an LSU women’s basketball game Feb. 12.
"There are some changes being made because of the transition, but we know this still will be an exciting time for the young people who participate," LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil said.
During this year of transition, no bids were received from a rodeo producer. As a result, there will not be a rodeo conducted in connection with the livestock show this year, but a variety of other activities will be available at Lamar-Dixon during the show.
In addition, the traditional 4-H Mini Farm on campus this year will be replaced by a larger event known as AgMagic. That event will fill the John M. Parker Agricultural Coliseum with a variety of educational programs geared toward school groups April 20-29 – and a day for the public on April 24.