North Star Classic cattle show pushes through pandemic

After many livestock shows have been canceled due to COVID-19, the North Star Classic decided to push through to give their exhibitors an opportunity to showcase their hard work.

The North Star Classic saw a rise in exhibitors this year due to other livestock show cancellations. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

VALLEY CITY, N.D. — With the cancellation of many livestock shows this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth in agriculture have taken a hit. Many have worked diligently with their animals, putting in not only money for feed and supplies, but countless hours in the barn bettering their animals.

For many youth exhibitors, walking into that show arena gives them the same feeling of going down the stairs on Christmas morning: pure joy.

That was why it was important to the North Star Classic to host their annual cattle show, to bring those young exhibitors a little joy during such an unpredictable year.

“You wait all year for Christmas and for a lot of these kids, this show is kind of like Christmas,” said Kelcey Hoffman, North Star Classic show manager.

Pushing through the pandemic

Before hosting their 21st annual show, the North Star Classic organizers knew this year’s show would look different. The team worked with Valley City officials to come up with a COVID response plan, ensuring the exhibitors and their family would have a fun and safe weekend while in town.


In the cattle barn, exhibitor pens were spaced out to help encourage social distancing. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

“Obviously 2020 has been different for everyone because of COVID-19, so in order to have the show we had to have a COVID response plan that had to be approved by the city of Valley City. We met with our board to discuss how we could accommodate that plan,” Hoffman said.

The plan included masks being required when you cannot be six feet apart, the spreading out of exhibitors, enough sanitization stands available throughout the location and cleaning the arena frequently. The North Star Classic even brought new technology in to help the exhibitors practice social distancing.

“We actually brought in an app for the exhibitors to use. The exhibitors will get notifications when their animals should be coming up to the holding arena. So, we try not to have as many people in a congregated setting at one time,” Hoffman said.

The North Star Classic also saw a rise in entries this year due to other canceled livestock events.

“We have a bigger show this year due to canceled events. We have guys driving nine, 10, even 12 hours to get here. We also have a lot of first timers here. These are big numbers and everybody is just extremely happy to have a show going on,” said Tesa Klein, North Dakota Winter Show manager.

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The show also had exhibitors make the trek to Valley City from five different states.


The North Star Classic staff was overall pleased by the exhibitors’ compliance to rules and regulations that had been put in place due to their COVID response plan.

“They are so tickled to have a show and to be here. They are more than willing to follow all the guidelines and they are doing well,” Klein said.

The North Star Classic also coordinates a cattle sale. (Emily Beal /Agweek)

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Something for everybody

Besides a weekend full of showing, the North Star Classic included other events for the whole family and citizens of Valley City to enjoy, such as a Cattlemen’s Ball and a Country Christmas event.

The Cattlemen’s Ball is a ticketed event limited to 150 guests. Guests receive a prime rib dinner, possibilities to win cash prizes, and chances to win impressive packages.

“We have six elite cattle lots, NFR tickets to Vegas for next year, hunting packages, a winter show package and much more,” Klein said.

Their other event, Country Christmas, is a vendor event where exhibitors and guests can get some of their holiday shopping done.


The North Star Classic also held a Cattlemen's Ball and a Country Christmas vendor event. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

“Admission is a canned good for the Country Christmas. We have something for your shop, your barn, or under your tree,” Klein said.

Klein and Hoffman both hope that this year’s North Star Classic brought people together and allowed for a little bit of normalcy.

“What makes this show special is the people and seeing the barn full of cattle again. Everybody is like a big family,” Klein said.

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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