Local youth dominate at State Fair

Union Grove’s Tori Crisp (far right) showcases her prize-winning Grand Champion Steer at the Wisconsin State Fair among friends, family and event officials. Crisp won the title for the second time in five years (Courtesy of We Know Live Stock)

Shoreland Lutheran graduate Crisp becomes two-time Grand Champion

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

Tori Crisp once again captured the title of having a Grand Champion Steer at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis.

With the victory, Crisp sold her prize-winning 1,339-pound crossbred steer she called Snoop for $47,500 to Kenosha Beef on Aug. 11 in the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction.

Crisp, of Union Grove, said the victory left her speechless.

“I was at a loss for words, I was thankful and blessed to be able to have a great steer this year,” she said.

Crisp, who bought the steer from Todd Caldwell, of Caldwell Show Cattle in Illinois, spent months working with her animal in preparation for the Wisconsin State Fair.

The work consisted of waking up bright and early, heading to the pen, and taking care of Snoop by continuous rinsing and other tasks.

Crisp, daughter of Jennifer and Mike Crisp, previously garnered Grand Champion Steer in 2016 when she was only 13 years old.

The two-time champion said she didn’t envision winning a second time.

“It is a great feeling, actually, to be able to win again in 2021,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to win again.”

Crisp credited her support system, including parents, for helping her with Snoop and said she couldn’t do it by herself.

Crisp, a member of Raymond 4-H Club, graduated from Shoreland Lutheran High School last spring and plans to use the prize winnings to help with college tuition and towards the purchase of a steer for 2022.

She will attend Black Hawk College in Illinois and study animal science.

Aside from 2020, when officials canceled the State Fair because of COVID-19, Racine County representatives have won Grand Champion Steer three years in row with siblings Reid and Riley Runkel winning in back-to-back years.

Kyle Lois, of Wheatland, showcases his reserve Grand Champion Steer after winning the award at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis last week (Submitted/The Report).

Other locals of note
Crisp, however, was not the lone Racine County representative to capture prize winnings during the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction.

Wheatland’s Kyle Lois, showing for Burlington FFA, finished second behind Crisp to capture reserve Grand Champion Steer with a 1,359-pound crossbred named Ray. Meijer submitted
the winning bid of $22,500.

Lois bought his steer from Webster Cattle Company in Missouri and he remembers spending countless hours working on Rae.

“I had him all winter and spring, and then during the summer, we worked on him everyday,” said Lois, a 2019 Westosha Central High School graduate.

“We got up at 5 a.m. and went out the barn and do some chores.”

Kyle Lois, son of Pam and Mike Lois, has shown cattle at the Wisconsin State Fair for three years with his 2021 and last appearance bringing him the best finish.

Pam Lois called her son’s finish part of an exciting day for exhibitors with Racine and Kenosha county roots.

“We are super proud of him. What an exciting day. All of the kids and families in the show business work extremely hard,” Pam said. “It was nice to see so many in Racine/Kenosha county have success.”

Kyle Lois studies agriculture business as an incoming junior at Iowa State University.

The success didn’t end with Crisp and Lois.

Cade Willis walks his pig around the Wisconsin State Fair show ring in West Allis. Willis, a graduate of Union Grove High School, won reserve Grand Champion Barrow (Submitted/The Report).

Cheers for the swine
Cade Willis, a recent Union Grove graduate, exhibited a reserve Grand Champion Barrow and sold the 275-pound Chester White pig for $10,000 to a group of several contributors.

Iowa County’s James Tibbits captured Grand Champion Barrow with a crossbred pig sold to winning bidder Beechwood Sales and Service for $16,000.

Willis, whose younger brother, Cooper, won best in breed at the State Fair, said the 2021 show was the best he has ever done.

“I have never won a class until last year and then coming into this year, we had some good hogs,” said Willis.

The Willis brothers, sons of Lisa and Jesse, showed four total hogs at the Wisconsin State Fair.

As for the reserve grand champion pig, according to Willis, he couldn’t come up with a name because he admits he never got around to the tradition.

“It kind of sucks that I hadn’t really thought of a name for it,” he said.

Willis, however, did find time to raise a prize-winning pig through dedication.

Willis, who bought the pig from Tibbits Show Pigs, focused on the animal’s weight and mobility as part of raising the pig.

“It doesn’t take very long, they grow really fast,” Willis said. “You just got to make sure they weigh really well and are walking right.”

Willis indicated having the top two pigs come from the same breeder, Tibbits Show Pigs, was special.

“It is kind of neat that we won grand and reserve grand with a Tibbits’ hog,” said Willis, a member of Union Grove FFA. “That just made it even better.”

Willis plans to focus on pre-veterinary studies as a freshman enrolled at Augsburg University.

County dominates
Meanwhile, Racine County representatives won multiple classes ranging from beef to swine at the State Fair.

Among the steer competitions, Parker Schaefer exhibited a champion Angus that sold for $11,000 to Beechwood Sales and Services along with Meijer. Bennett Wilks, also of Racine County, showed a champion Simmental steer sold to Andis Co. for $13,000.

Brannt Balfanz, in the lamb show, showcased a champion Dorset breed bought by Beechwood Sales and Service for $6,000.

Cooper Willis, who won best in breed for a Landrace barrow, sold the pig for $5,000 to Andis Co. and Meijer.

“I think it just goes to show how dedicated the kids are in Racine County,” said Kyle Lois, when asked about why Racine County had a notable year.

Cade Willis and Crisp agreed with Lois and stated the accomplishments are a testament to working families in Racine County.

“We have so many competitive families. It works out really well and we make a name for Racine County because we have competitive families and we all support each other,” said Willis. “It just makes the show more fun.”

“Every year, in Racine County the competition and it makes it more fun,” Crisp said. “It makes you want to work harder to get better every year.”



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