Cal Poly’s Western Bonanza Junior Livestock Show will celebrate its 36th anniversary as it returns to the Paso Robles Event Center from Friday to Sunday, Feb. 14-16.

The livestock show began as Cal Poly alumnus Mark Reichle’s senior project in 1985.

It began as a primarily beef show, but has turned into a five-ring show that is known as “The Best in the West.” The Western Bonanza is the largest student-run  livestock show in the nation. 

A leadership team of 33 Cal Poly students and more than 100 volunteer and committee members from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences will host the livestock show. Animal science senior Chloe Fowler is the marketing manager on the leadership team.

“Being a part of the leadership team this year has taught me a great deal of responsibility, as well as taught me so much about the livestock industry itself. By far, my favorite part of Bonanza is seeing all the kids happy, as it truly shows through there smiles when exhibiting their animals,” Fowler said.

YouTube video
Video by Samantha Schuessler

More than 1,200 animals compete in the livestock show. Judges come from all over the nation to determine the best animals by analyzing their body condition, bone structure, movement, and breed characteristics. Western Bonanza provides exhibitors with more than $100,000 in premiums and sought-after awards.

For the third year in a row, the event will include a livestock auction featuring pigs, sheep, and goats from around California. 

All Steer, Hog, Lamb and Goat exhibitors must be 9 to 19 years old as of January 1, 2020. Exhibitors, ranging in age from 9 to 21, have come from dozens of California counties and other states including Nevada, Arizona and Washington to show their animals in the other four categories: beef, swine, sheep and goats. 

“Being a part of Western Bonanza the past three years has been the highlight of my college career,” agriculture science junior and livestock manager Brooke Minetti said. “Western Bonanza has been such a positive asset to my college career, as it has helped me find some of my greatest passions in life.” 

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