The First Ogden Livestock Show

Local children were allowed to join in the show, and the first place prize was $15.

Starting in 1920, the show grew by 1929 to the largest livestock market west of Denver.


The first Ogden livestock show opened in early January of 1920. Ogden had been attracting nationwide attention as an important livestock center. The city was important as a center for the shipping, feeding, and marketing point for cattle, sheep, hogs, and horses. Ogden was a logical place because of the railroad traffic and the interest from local businessmen who had invested in the growth and success of the stockyards.

When the first show was announced, there were over 50 train carloads of livestock, including sheep, cattle, and hogs shipped in September of 1919. The ranchers had indicated that there would be at least another 100 more. There were exhibitions to prove that the intermountain states could produce the finest of cattle, sheep, and hogs that were ready for the markets of the world. Buyers from Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, and eastern markets came to purchase the livestock. Cattle men from all points in the West arrived daily for the big show.

The livestock show included three days of entertainment, like a wrestling match at the Orpheum Theater and a large banquet at the Berthana. The exhibitions at the stockyards showcased champions like Sultan Mayflower, the great shorthorn bull that had sired two grant champions at the Chicago Livestock show and the highest price shorthorn bull ever sold on the Pacific coast. Even the local state industrial school had an exhibit of Holstein cattle, including a bull, a yearling bull, heifers, and steers. There was an estimated $2,000,000 worth of cattle, sheep, and hogs at the first show.

Even local children got involved in the show. There was an amateur judging contest for children with no previous experience. The top award for the child who won first place was $15. The kids were given three minutes to judge and place four animals in each category. They then went in front of judges and explained their reasons for the placements. Governor Simon Bamberger donated a small cup trophy to the best boy or girl who kept the best record chart during the show.

The first day of the show was hit with a large snow storm that caused a delay in some of the livestock arriving from Salt Lake City. The judging was put off for one day and took place later during the show’s run. The first place prize in each category was $15, and second place was $8. Over the three days, the show had attendance of over 10,000 and made over $125,000. The decision was quickly made to make the Ogden Livestock Show an annual event.

In 1926, Ogden built a $100,000 coliseum to house the show and other events. By 1929, It was the largest livestock market west of Denver and handled 250 carloads of cattle each day, 200 carloads of sheep, and 100 carloads of hogs. With Swift meat packing processing plant close to the stockyard, Ogden became the largest sheep and lamb processing plant in the nation. The industry grew and peaked in 1945. By 1967, commission agents closed operations of the stockyards, which lead to the loss of the livestock show.

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