2020 Grand Champion Market Steer crowned at San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo

On Saturday morning, hundreds of spectators packed the Keith Martin Auction Barn to witness the winning bid for the 2020 Grand Champion Market Steer.

But before the auction, young and old bowed their heads in prayer. They placed their hands over their hearts for young August Ottmers’ stirring rendition of the national anthem on her violin. Then came rousing cheers for one of the highly anticipated events of the 71st annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

“We’re in the homestretch now!” auctioneer C. Jason Spence said as he strode across the sawdust-scattered platform.

Minutes after his rapid-fire delivery drew escalating offers, several buyers cast the winning bid of $110,000 for Foo, a 1,379-pound Maine-Anjou raised by Maddie O’Leary from the Parker County 4-H club in North Texas. The high school junior from Brock also received a $10,000 scholarship she said would help her attend Texas Tech University.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Maddie, 17, as she held the bridle of her black-and-white steer in the pen area. “I can’t put into words what it means to me. If it’s a dream, I don’t want to wake up.

She said the experience meant even more after she had to work hard in the beginning to gain the steer’s trust.

Last year, W.M. “Rusty” Rush from Rush Enterprises cast the winning bid of $119,939 for Homer, a tan Charolais.

A group of 11 buyers bid $75,000 for 2020 reserve champion Coconut, showed by Mikala Grady from Grandview in North Texas. Her father, Brad Grady, said his daughter’s hard work also paid off in 2018, when her cross steer won the reserve champion category.

“It was incredible,” Mikala said. “For my last year to go out like this is something you always look forward to.”

Maddie and Mikala were among students from 4-H clubs and FFA chapters who have competed throughout the season in ranching and farming contests.

Fifteen breeds of cattle were judged during the three days of the junior market steer show. Livestock Committee Chairman John Henderson said more than 13,000 animals were expected to be auctioned at this year’s junior livestock show.

As supporters congratulated the winners for their champion steers, the auction continued.

Family members filled the aisles and bleachers; placards bearing names of prospective buyers ringed the room. The smell of coffee and hay hung in the air.

Auction Committee Chairman Neal Brodbeck said the event takes a huge commitment from farming families and the more than 270 volunteers who support the event each year. He also thanked the bidders who spend thousands of dollars on the winning animals.

“San Antonio has the best group of buyers at our auction,” he said. “They work their heart and soul out, and they really give generously. It all goes down to helping the youth of Texas.”

Across from the metal pens, Maddie gathered with family for photos with Foo. Her long hours of tending to the steer are over but not likely to ever be forgotten.

Vincent T. Davis is a reporter in the Greater San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | vtdavis@express-news.net | Twitter: @vincentdavis

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