COLUMBUS — A pair of teenagers from Allen and Auglaize counties took top honors at the Ohio State Fair over the weekend, winning Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion for their market steers.
Fifteen-year-old Brooke Egbert, an incoming sophomore at New Knoxville High School, was named Grand Champion. Her steer sold for $45,000 to Steve Rauch Excavation and Demolition.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Brooke said. “I feel accomplished because it’s one of my dreams that I always wanted to complete.”
Caden Jones, a 13-year-old incoming eighth-grader at Allen East Junior High School, won Reserve Grand Champion. His steer sold for $33,000 to the Kroger Co.
“I’ve been trying to get Grand or Reserve Champion for a long time, so it feels pretty good,” Caden said.
The 4-H Club members and long-time fair competitors are no strangers to success. Brooke, who started competing more than 10 years ago, won Grand Champion in 2013 and was named Reserve Champion in 2014 at the Ohio State Fair. Though this was Caden’s first time being honored at the state fair, he’s won Grand and Reserve Champion at the Allen County Fair in years past.
Despite the fact that they were competing against one another, Brooke and Caden described themselves as good friends who have grown up together. Brooke explained that she and Caden’s families have always been close, and that their relationship has evolved through the years.
“Me and Caden became really good friends, and it all kind of evolved around showing cattle,” she said. “It was really cool to experience that with Caden because it was something we both set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year.”
Caden said he and Brooke often collaborate with one another, sharing tips and strategies for raising the best cattle. He said Brooke even helped him pick out his steer for this year’s state fair.
“We talk to each other every day and we help each other get through the year, so to show as friends and to win as friends is an amazing accomplishment,” he said.
Caden admitted that watching Brooke have success at previous state fairs led him to work even harder.
“She’s the one who really motivates me to get better,” he said.
Of the $45,000, Brooke takes home $22,000. The rest of the money is distributed to the Youth Reserve Program, which funds agriculture contests, scholarships, and other programs within 4-H and the FFA. Brooke said she is putting the money in a college fund, except for $1,000 that she is donating to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Caden received $11,000 for his market steer. He too is putting the money toward college, along with investing in a new steer he will bring to next year’s state fair. Both Caden and Brooke agreed that they accomplished a lot this year, and are looking forward to more success in future state fairs.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.