Over 300 people will come together this weekend for the largest student-run event in North Dakota, which is put on by North Dakota State’s largest club.
It’s the 89th Annual Little International Livestock Show, covering Feb. 13-14 with a range of agriculture events open to the public.
Presented by Saddle and Sirloin Club, the 89th “Little I” will see over 150 participants showing livestock from beef and dairy cattle to sheep and swine.
After the club was organized in 1918, the first show was in 1922, with World War II accounting for the missing math in the 93 years since the shows started.
For the managers and coordinators of the event, Little I is much more than a weekend. It’s a weekend “with 365 days of planning.”
“When you take the members that help and the showmen that are involved, we have four faculty advisers as well as other faculty that help us … easily over 300 people that help put it on,” Maria Hager, 89th Little I manager, said.
“Students organize the whole thing,” Phillip Wanner, 89th Little I assistant manager, said, “(There are) 24 committees that make up the whole foundation of Little I.”
“Me and Phil are 24 separate committees’ bosses, pretty much,” Hager added.
Uniting this year’s weekend of events and the people involved and attending is the theme of “We Stand for the Brand,” a slogan Hager says can mean something different for everyone.
“Everything’s branded,” Hager said. “NDSU’s a brand. It’s about standing for what you believe in … People can take the theme as they want, but for us, as a club, it’s we stand for what we do as a club and what we’re working towards as an … animal husbandry club.”
With events ranging from a ham-curing contest to an alumni luncheon to the preliminary and final shows, Little I packs a full schedule into the two-day itinerary, beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Getting the word out about the festivities is due in part to the work of the Little I royalty, queen Kristi Tonnessen and princesses Courtney Rudolph and Dani Buskohl.
The trio traverses the community in the weeks before the event, doing interviews around Fargo and publicity at locations like West Acres Shopping Center.
In addition to Saddle and Sirloin Club selecting Little I royalty, the organization also selects an Agriculturalist of the Year.
“We elect somebody who has made an impact on the industry, whether it’s just in the state or nationally,” Tonnessen said, “just somebody who’s really made a difference and strives to leave the industry better.”
This year’s honoree is Ray Bartholomay, a Sheldon, N.D., resident who “realizes the future of agriculture lies within today’s youth and has been a catalyst for their growth and knowledge in the industry.”
“The bigger part of Little I is the Ag of the Year,” Hager said, adding, “We’re honoring North Dakota agriculture, and in an individual it’s made an impact, and then all these kids, whether they’re ag-related or not, get to celebrate in that and be a part of it.”
For a lineup of Little International events this weekend, visit ag.ndsu.edu/academics/89th-little-international