COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — Success at the Ohio State Fair runs in Ryleigh Egbert’s blood.
“I’ve been through it since I was literally born,” 16-year-old Ryleigh Egbert said. “We raise club calves so I’ve always helped with that. And then that’s kind of how we just got into it. And my older sister showed and had some success at the state fair, too.”
But that history and success doesn’t quite compare to what happened on August 7.
Ryleigh and her calf, Cruiser, won Grand Champion Market Beef at the Ohio State Fair.
At the Sale of Champions, they blew the record of $85,000 out of the water. A family friend won the sale for Cruiser with a bid of $225,000.
“I guess he didn’t know it was going to bring that much,” Ryleigh said. “I don’t think he wound up regretting it anyway!”
Months of hard work paid off, but that prize came with a price.
At the Sale of Champions, after the auction is over, the animals are loaded onto a stock truck and taken to slaughter.
Ryleigh’s mom, Justine, said her heart was both bursting with pride and breaking for her daughter.
“They’ve seen it since they were old enough to walk,” Justine Egbert said. “They’ve been at the stockyard and watched their dad load semi-trucks. They know the circle of life. It’s just a little harder because those cattle become those kids’ best friends.”
It was especially hard this year for Ryleigh. She had a special bond with both Cruiser and her grandpa, who passed away in February.
“I told Grandpa in the beginning of this I thought this was my chance,” Ryleigh said. “And being able to sit there and every day going to the barn in the summer, knowing I’m not just doing it for me anymore. It’s for him. And it’s for the family. Honestly, it kept me going.”
It kept her going right into the record books, with memories of her grandpa– and a four-legged friend– that she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.
S&S Volvo of Lima made that purchase.
One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that the Grand Champion exhibitor doesn’t take home all of that money. There’s a cap.
Ryleigh’s portion was about $22,000, which she plans to use for college.
The rest of the money goes to scholarships and other programs that benefit fair participants.