SDSU will host the 91st two-day agricultural exposition event known as Little International on March 28- 29.
Little I brings in thousands of agriculture enthusiasts as well as SDSU alumni from the hosting department.
“This event attracts people from neighboring states. There are generally kids from Minnesota and Iowa high school students, so it draws in from a fairly large area,” said Little I manager and senior animal science major D.J. Buseman. “We’re expecting 2,000 to 2,500 participants for the event and the spectator crowd keeps growing every year.”
With the event starting in 1921, the department is always looking for new ways of improving the event as well as maintaining its historical traditions.
“We’re continuing the strong legacy of Little I but at the same time we’re looking for new ways of improving it every year,” said John Weber, Little I assistant manager and junior animal science major. “It has definitely gained popularity, but once you get to such a crowd that we already have, it becomes difficult to expand that crowd base. It seems like every year we have more and more chapters coming to the event.”
For almost a century, this regional event has participants qualifying in judging competitions, showmanship competitions and fitting challenges.
“The most popular events would be the livestock judging competitions, and another are the livestock shows on Friday and Saturday night,” Buseman said. “I think it’s because as far as livestock goes for South Dakota, we’re one of the largest state wise and it’s something fun for students to compete against with their friends.”
Little I is a student-led event, with 114 student-staff volunteers. This gives students in the agriculture department an opportunity to make connections and establish leadership skills, according to Buseman.
“The students leading this event are extremely good; we have around 120 students on staff,” Buseman said. “We usually have 150 apply for staff and pick 120 of them. We need to make sure we work very efficiently and are ready for them when they come.”
Adding to the benefits that Little I gives participating SDSU and high school students, this event also works as a way to show younger kids what SDSU is about and can act as a potential recruiting tool.
“I would say there are kids that compete in the event, and it’s a great recruiting event for SDSU. Kids get to get involved and it gets them on campus,” Buseman said. “They meet professors and get familiar with the layout and meet many different networking connections.”
To some, Little I shows the roots of SDSU and what it is known for, which can be attributed to the events long history.
“It says a lot about the students and the University’s programs aspects. It shows the bread and butter of our students and that we’re committed to continuing the tradition,” Weber said. “It gave me an opportunity to try a lot of different things when I got to campus here coming from St. Paul.”
The event will be emceed by brothers Jared and Lee Sanderson – both of who are SDSU alums and were Little I managers.