The Utah State Junior Livestock Show, the oldest livestock show west of the Mississippi, may have begun over bragging rights for Utah County ranchers, say organizers.

"The stock show derives its heritage from the early 1900s, when Utah County ranchers would tie their breeding beef bulls to the city's horse railing, then located on the north side of the Spanish Fork City Park," said McKay Stirland, the show's publicity chairman."These informal `beef exhibitions' allegedly grew out of the Spanish Fork Horse Show, which ended in 1915 because the automobile had replaced the horse," Stirland said. "(The ranchers) would hitch their breeding bulls to the city's horse rail, comparing their animals and debating each bull's superiority."

Ranchers then formed the Spanish Fork Livestock Association in 1918, and invited "one and all who are in any way interested in the cattle business to be on hand with at least one animal for the show. Don't make excuses, but bring your stock along and help make the affair a success."

In 1924, the show - then known as the Spanish Fork Cattle Show - was accepted as a Utah stock show and drew exhibitors throughout the state. Organizers moved the show from the city park to the city fairgrounds in 1928 and the name was changed to indicate its statewide significance, Stirland said.

Eventually, the show was opened to youths ages 9 to 18. Today, participants must be registered 4-H members or belong to the Future Farmers of America club at their school.

Those youths will exhibit their 4-H and FFA projects in livestock during the show, which begins today at the city fairgrounds and runs through Saturday. Organizers say they expect more than 200 entries for this year's event, approximately the same as last year.

Included in the events for the show are traditional marketing and showmanship contests, judging, horse events and a stock parade through the town.

The city will celebrate Governor's Day on Friday with the stock parade, which begins at 800 North and Main Street. Stirland said Gov. Mike Leavitt may attend the Friday events, but his office has not confirmed an appearance yet.

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Additional Information

Show events

All events will be held at the Spanish Fork City Fairgrounds unless noted:

- Market fitting and showmanship: Wednesday, May 4 - market hogs, 5:30 p.m.; market lambs, 6 p.m.; Thursday, May 5 - market beef, 3:30 p.m.

- Judging: Thursday, May 5 - breeding sheep, 8:30 a.m.; junior dairy, 10 a.m.; market beef, noon; breeding beef, 4 p.m.; market lambs, 6 p.m.

- Future Farmers of America and 4-H judging contests: Friday, May 6 - horses, 8:30 a.m.; livestock, 9:30 a.m.

- Junior horse events: Friday, May 6, 10 a.m.

- Stock parade: Friday, May 6, 11 a.m., begins at 800 North and Main Street. - Luncheon: Friday, May 6, noon, Spanish Fork Senior Citizen Center, 167 W. Center. Honors the governor and show participants.

- Ladies lead line: Friday, May 6 - pre-judging, 1:30 p.m.; classes, 2 p.m. - Exhibitors jamboree: Friday, May 6, 7 p.m., Spanish Fork Intermediate School, 600 S. 820 East.

- Sale of market stock: Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m.