Little ‘I’ mixes old traditions with new

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Little International is back again for its 95th year at South Dakota State.

Along with Little “I” classics, two new events have been added to this year’s itinerary: a community outreach program called “iLead” and a barbecue contest.

“I’m very excited about it. It should be a way for us to get more involved in the community,” said Little “I” Manager Kendrah Schafer.

The new community event iLead will allow children a chance to show goats alongside collegiate showmen. Although it is mainly intended for children with disabilities, iLead is open for any children from Brookings elementary, middle and high schools.

Madison Styles, a pre-pharmacy major, said she likes the idea of introducing younger students to showing livestock.

“Growing up in livestock, 4-H and [American] Angus Association, I learned some of the best lessons about hard work, integrity and agriculture,” she said. “It has affected me and shaped my life. It’s cool that kids will get the opportunity to learn some of the same things I learned.”

The barbecue is open for anyone who wants to compete. There are 15 spots for teams of five. Little “I” will provide the pork loins, but contestants must provide their own grill and grilling utensils.

People are welcome to try the barbecue and vote for their favorite, but there will also be three judges. There is a $20 entry fee for anyone who would like to compete. The entry fee can be filled out at sdsulittleinternational.com.

For students who have allergies to animals or can’t attend the Little “I” livestock show like Allison Braun, biotechnology major, having more options to get involved is beneficial.

“It’s great that Little “I” is finding different ways to promote agriculture besides just showing livestock,” she said. “It allows more people to become involved with the event.”

Many Little “I” employees are most excited about the Feb. 7 livestock drawing, Schafer said. “Just the anticipation and the unsureness of who is going to show an animal, or if your name is going to be drawn, it’s uncertain and it’s just a disaster, but it’s so much fun.”

There is a $25 fee to enter the drawing. Once they are drawn, each participant will have a few meetings with their livestock coordinator before the expo.

Little “I” dates back to 1921 and has a rich history. Some contests held during the event are livestock shows, horse fitting and lamb lead.

From the animal exposition and the South Dakota FFA competition, to the multiple events like Ag Olympics or “Dance in the chips,” Little “I” has a lot going on.

“I can’t wait to finally sit back and watch it all come together,” Schafer said.

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