Agricultural History Series

 Missouri State University

 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair

Beef Cattle Shows

The cattle started arriving soon after the horses had left the fair.  Everything was more ready for the cattle than it had been for the horses.  Walkways and streets had been covered with cinders so that the fair visitors and the livestock could stay out of the mud.  The horse stalls had been cut down to cattle height and the cattle shows got off to a much more positive start than the horse shows had just two weeks before. 

The primary  problem that the cattle exhibitors experienced was water pressure.  The livestock barns were located on the highest hill on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds.  During the day when so may visitors were on the main fairgrounds, there simply was not enough water pressure and sometimes, there was no water at all.  Exhibitors managed to get water by filling barrels in the middle of the night when the water pressure was better. It was noted that the physical limits of the water supply had simply been reached or exceeded.

The cattle shows were held from September 12 to the end of September.  About 2,400 head of beef and dairy cattle were exhibited. A  parade of cattle was held on the first day in the Livestock Forum.  It was described as the "grandest parade of show cattle" ever held. There had been plans to parade the cattle through the fairgrounds and even onto the Pike as had been done with the horses.  However, the plans were changed and the cattle remained in the livestock area.  The unbroken line of cattle was wound around and around in the large arena.  It was noted that there were not enough herdsmen so that all cattle could be led in the parade.  The parade was led by a large white Shorthorn bull, with the Shorthorns, Hereford, Angus and Galloways coming next.  Two Scotch Highland cattle with long hair and long horns were also included.  Kansas State University's huge steer, "Sampson" got special attention from the onlookers.  "Sampson" was said to weigh 3,500 pounds.

The World's Fair presented an opportunity for visitors to see the finest Beef Cattle in the world. Many farmers came to St. Louis just for these cattle shows. Not only was it a way to see the best cattle of the common breeds, it was also a way to see breeds from other countries. Classes were offered for the following beef breeds: Shorthorn, Hereford, Angus, Galloway, Red Polled, Devon, Polled Durham,  Norman, Simmental, Sussex, and Highland.

Here are two photos that show scenes in the Livestock Forum during a Cattle Parade. You may click on either photo to see a detailed enlargement of it (be patient, it might be slow to load):

The cattle judging then began.  It was proudly noted that at the Chicago World's Fair, that $31,625 in prize money was offered but that St. Louis was offering $105,106.  It was noted that there was no catalogue of exhibits available. A private vendor had been contracted to provide one that could be sold.  However, it did not get finished in time.  In fact, it was noted that the horse catalog was finally made available by the time the cattle arrived.

A daily parade of each day's winners was held each afternoon.  This was enjoyed by the fair visitors but some exhibitors complained about having to do it.

Shows were held for most  of the common breeds of the day.  Also, a few head of other breeds were displayed. Click on the links below to visit pages for each breed:

Shorthorns Herefords Galloways
Angus Polled Durhams Red Polled
Steers Range Cattle College Exhibits

The final event of the cattle show was a parade on September 29.  All of the winners, wearing their rosettes, were once again led in circles throughout the large livestock arena.

Since cattle from the far south had not been allowed to participate in the World's Fair due to Tick Fever fears, another beef show, the Range Cattle show was held in November for cattle from some southern states.

References: Breeder's Gazette, September 21, 1904; Farmer and Stockman, September 29, 1904; St. Louis Republic, September 24, 1904.

Photos from Irwin Collection.

This page was designed and is maintained by Lyndon Irwin

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