In the early days of the fledgling show, World Dairy Exposition, nearly all the big show strings were anchored by a mature bull.
Most of today’s show people were not alive when these massive creatures were on parade, but for those that were they will remember how much they added to the event. The competition was fierce and their caretakers and handlers took tremendous pride in presenting them both on display and in the ring. They had little impact if any on breed improvement, and maybe even in an adverse way, but without them the show would not have prospered. For nearly twenty years of it’s existence, Expo was home to the “Big Bulls” and all the drama that went with them. The barns were not made for mature bulls and many a time the whole front section of the tie area in the barn would be moved ahead with a push from one of these gentlemen or back with a pull as well. Safety took a back seat for sure. Amazingly it seems nobody was ever hurt seriously by a bull at Expo. Not to say there weren’t some close calls.
Allen Hetts and Gene Nelson were two of the founders of World Dairy Expo and two of the finest bull showmen ever. While neither man was large, the way they handled these 2500 lb. (+) animals was a thing of beauty and grace. Whereas now days the largest crowds pack the seats to see the cow classes, in the early years of the show the arena would be full during the aged bull class.
The first Grand Champion Holstein bull in 1967 was Prestige of Lakehurst for Sonny Bartel and David Bachmann’s Lakehurst farm. Purchased as a “short aged” three year old, “Prestige” was exported to Japan for a healthy five-figure price tag, which helped finance Lakehurst farm’s progress. “Prestige” gained Gold Medal status in the U.S. and his name was found for years close up in the pedigree of many champions and All-American nominees.
The names Crescent Beauty and World Dairy Exposition were synonymous in the beginning as the show itself was the brainchild of Crescent Beauty’s owner Allen Hetts. So synonymous that the Grand Champion Trophy is named the Allen Hetts trophy. In the inaugural World Dairy Expo show, Hetts exhibited the grand champion female, a two year old Bayland Crescent Charmane, but it was the next two years with the big boys, Crescent Beauty Talent and Crescent Beauty Premier, that not only anchored the farm’s show string but also financed the farms future. “Talent” was Grand Champion in both 1968-69 and then boarded a train for California to the Western National at the Cow Palace and then hopped on a ship for Japan to his new home. “Premier” booked with the same travel agent and also headed to Japan after his train ride to San Francisco. These two paid for the beautiful new barn that showcased Crescent Beauties incredible herd of cows.
For the next seven years two bulls ruled the roost and their battles were epic. One was born and bred in Canada and owned in Wisconsin and the other was a “Hoosier” through and through. The bulls, C Carlspride Vogel Reflection B and Zeldenrust Fond Memory, were owned and shown by legendary showmen, Henry “Sonny” Bartel and C.M. “Cash” Bottema Jr. Each year the anticipation would start in the spring as to which bull had held up the best and could carry their 3000 pounds around the ring the best. While both shared the similar gigantic size and color they were different in a couple ways. “Carlspride” was loaded with style and could be labeled as a pretty boy, where as “Fond Memory” was sometimes referred to as “Buffalo headed” but he moved like a cat. In fact, sometimes he was shown at a near gallop with two leadsmen in front and one behind with a show stick putting him into “Road Gear”. It was quite a performance. The crowd, like the judges, was divided right up the middle. “Fond Memory” won in 1970-74 and 75 and “Carlspride” would win the big trophy in 1972-73 and 1976. Between the two bulls they accounted for 12 National show Grand Championships in the timeframe from 1970 to 1976 and several state fairs wins to boot.
Of all of the bulls shown at Expo perhaps the two that came the closest to perfection were a Jersey Aged bull, Brownys Masterman Jester, and a Holstein bull calf, Pinehurst Debonair. As one examines their pictures remember there was no Photoshop and very little hair jobs. These two boys were “au naturel”.
Brownys Masterman Jester made one appearance at World Dairy Expo in 1970 and was named Grand Champion Jersey bull. He arrived via boxcar and was one of the last to ship in via rail. He was well traveled hailing from Lake Placid, New York, and the world famous Heaven Hill Farm. From Senior Yearling on he was undefeated for five years running including five National Championships in a row. Not only was he undefeated there was nothing close. His state fair and regional championships were akin to a walkover in horse race terms. “Maggie” as he was known by (that was his mother’s name), loaded the trophy cases at Heaven Hill and he was the pride and joy of his owners and caretakers. He was perfection in a brown hide.
In 1976 Pinehurst Farm fielded one of the greatest show herds ever. The group traveled from coast to coast and throughout the Mid-West. In a feat never before accomplished the farm was named Premier Breeder and Exhibitor at every show including the Eastern, Central and Western Nationals. In a string full of superstars including the World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion, Oak Ridge Kellys Rosid (Ayrshire), and Holsteins scored to EX-97 like Jan Com Fond Matt Matilda, there was one animal that approached perfection, Pinehurst Debonair. As a Senior bull calf he was unchallenged, Junior Champion eight times and Grand Champion over mature bulls at the Iowa State Fair. On top of that he anchored an undefeated Junior Get of Sire at ten shows. At the World Dairy Expo he was Junior Champion and topped off the year by being named unanimous All-American Bull calf.
The last Holstein bulls (calves) were shown at World Dairy Expo in 2005, ending 38 years of bulls being shown at the event. Many a bull was sold overseas during that time thus financing a good part of the exhibitor’s expenses; but A.I. and safety concerns ended the tradition leaving nothing but “Fond Memories”. (Pun intended)
By Norman Nabholz