Typically, the grand champion steer is the main event at the Illinois State Fair's Governor's Sale of Champions. In this year of change in Illinois politics and government, with new people running things and a move back to the fairgrounds Coliseum for the livestock auction, another steer upstaged the champion, with the help of an American Idol. Taylor Donelson of Clinton was showing the “Land of Lincoln champion,” which she named Scotty, for her favorite singer, who just happened to show up: Scotty McCreery. He brought the star power, and Gov. Bruce Rauner brought the checkbook, purchasing Scotty (the steer) for $61,000.
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The grand champion showman was A.J. Line, 19, of Seaton. He will be a sophomore at Black Hawk College East in Kewanee and is involved in judging livestock as well as raising it. He shares the credit with Smitty, who brought $65,000 from AT&T and Monsanto / DeKalb / Asgrow. “A lot of it's him,” Line said, “but you still need someone to present him and get ready. This stuff ain't easy, and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be at the stage that we're at right now.” The annual event raised more than $275,000 for the youth and for 4-H and FFA programs.