From Illinois Business Journal news services
SPRINGFIELD – The Governor’s Sale of Champions has always been one of the biggest events at the Illinois State Fair and this year was no exception. The sale was moved to the Coliseum on the fairgrounds to provide a grand stage to highlight youth in agriculture.
Guests — including the governor — were ready to open their wallets: The event raised $275,450 for junior exhibitors and state 4H and FFA youth education programs.
Two records were broken at the sale. The first record breaker went to the Grand Champion Barrow, exhibited by Dylan McCafferty of Sherman, Ill. His barrow sold for $76,500 crushing the previous record of $25,000. The barrow was purchased by the CME Group. The CME Group also announced that they would donate $5,000 to each of the exhibitors at the Sale of Champions to attend the college of their choosing.
Another great surprise came for Taylor Donelson, of Clinton, Ill., who exhibited the Land of Lincoln Grand Champion Steer. Taylor prefers to name her steers after country music artists and this Champion Steer was named Scotty, after “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery.
McCreery, who happened to be performing at the Illinois State Fair the night of the sale, caught wind of this and surprised her by showing up at the Governor’s Sale. McCreery stood in the crowd of bidders to help root on Taylor — and to help raise the bidding higher. Donelson’s Land of Lincoln steer sold for a record $61,000 to the highest bidder, Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The junior exhibitors who showed the champion animals receive 80 percent of the sales price. The remaining 20 percent will be equally split between the Illinois 4-H and FFA programs.