Celebrating 100 years of tradition at SDSU's Little International

The centennial Little International took place at South Dakota State University on March 31 and April 1.

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Showmen and women participate in the 100th Little International Swine Show April 1 in Brookings, South Dakota.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

BROOKINGS, S.D. — Students, alumni and spectators filled the Animal Science Arena at South Dakota State University to celebrate the 100th Little International, March 31 and April 1.

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The traditional Little "I" barn stands at the front of the arena during the 100th event.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

These showmen and women worked with their livestock for only a couple weeks before entering the arena to show off their skills.

"It’s really kind of jam packed, you get about two weeks to work with them and get them ready to roll for the show," said Bradyn Lachenmeier. "They are kind of like children, in the sense that you have to nurture them and care for them and give them, you know, feedback in a manner that they will positively respond."

Lachenmeier is a junior at SDSU and grew up showing goats in North Dakota, but this is his first time showing a goat at Little International.

"It’s definitely exciting," said Lachenmeier. "You know, this kind of time of the year, especially with this long winter, can kind of get slow and drawn out, but being able to do something that I truly enjoy, like working with my livestock, just really makes those days go by so much quicker."


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Dairy cattle showmen and women participate in the 100th Little International.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

This year’s Little "I" had 158 exhibitors and 164 student staff members.

"It was a really great experience, just knowing that it is so important for it being like the 100th, that there is probably a lot bigger of an audience here this year then there were in the past years and maybe in the future years as well," said Amanda Kelling, student staff member and goat showman.

Due to the winter storm, most of the events on the first day had to be canceled, but that didn’t stop the crowd from coming out to support the organization during the final shows.

"We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout tonight, all the events are coming together really well," said Cody Gifford, 100th Little "I" manager from Arco, Minnesota.

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Twelve alumni participate in the Alumni Round Robin on Saturday, April 1, in Brookings South Dakota.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

This year, 12 past round robin winners were able to get back on the green chips again and compete in the very first alumni round robin.

"Yeah, it’s been a long time, so it was sure different, but it brought back a lot of memories, especially species we don’t show at home like the horses. It had been 30ish years since I have been on the halter of a horse, so that was kind of cool," said Todd Franz, alumni round robin participant.

Alison Durheim participated in Little "I" from 2014 to 2018 and this year was able to return and judge the goat events.

"This experience means the world to me to be completely honest. For this 100th year, I never thought I would be able to be back here, and if I was, I would just be in the stands. So the fact that I am on those green chips, it’s the world," Durheim said.


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Showmen and women participate in the 100th Little International Beef Show.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

The organization is working hard to keep the tradition of Little International for past , present and future participants.

"Our spectators come back year after year and this year is just even a little more special than most because not many clubs can say they have made it a hundred years on campus, and we are one of the ones that can," Gifford said.

"It’s a great student deal, there is a lot of teaching involved here and it does a lot of good for the entire livestock industry, so by all means support Little 'I,'" Franz said.

This year's Little "I" also had several other event's for alumni to participate in, including the centennial social, chili cook-off and alumni high point contest.

Ariana is a reporter for Agweek based out of South Dakota. She graduated from South Dakota State University in 2022 with a double major in Agricultural Communications and Journalism, with a minor in Animal Science. She is currently a graduate student at SDSU, working towards her Masters of Mass Communications degree. She enjoys reporting on all things agriculture and sharing the stories that matter to both the producers and the consumers.

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