Anyone who has been to a cattle show knows the excitement of the grand drive. The class winners return to the ring, there are whispers as the judge evaluates one more time, a hush falls over the spectators as the judge goes to the microphone and makes final comments. THEN, cheers erupt as the grand champion animal is selected.
Now imagine the grand drive is in downtown Aggieville, Manhattan, Kansas – that's right, right in the heart of the "Ville". That's just what will happen on the evening of April 17, when the Aggieville Showdown brings its division champion market animals and breeding heifers to a 36 foot by 48 foot showring on Moro Street in the heart of historic Aggieville.
Aggieville Showdown is the brainchild of Christian Calliham, who graduated from Kansas State University in May of 2020 with a degree in Agribusiness with an emphasis in Marketing.
He recalled how he and some friends enjoyed an evening in Aggieville, the community that developed connecting Kansas State University and Manhattan, Kansas. The group was discussing the divide between rural and urban. "I just said wouldn't it be great if we could have a cattle show right here in Aggieville!", Calliham recalled. With that simple pronouncement, the Aggieville Showdown began to develop.
But bringing such an event to the center of a thriving business district with over 100 unique businesses, including restaurants, bars, and specialty shops, was no easy task. Calliham put his marketing degree to work when he approached Dennis Cook the Director of the Aggieville Business Association. Cook said when Calliham pitched the idea to him, “I was all for it!! When I approached the Business Association Board of Directors, I was expecting some push back, but they were immediately excited.” Cook went on to say that the board said it sounded like a truly unique event, very different and is generating a great deal of excitement in the business district.
The establishment of an advisory board was an important element to make the Aggieville Showdown vision into an actual event. The board members provide industry knowledge to insure the event educates the general public about agriculture. Representing diverse agriculture backgrounds, board members and are essential to help exhibitors and the spectators who will be from all walks of life have the best experience possible.
The Aggieville Showdown, which is open to any youth exhibitor age 8-25 years old, was postponed from 2020 due to COVID -19 restrictions to the spring 2021. Even with the cancellation of the 2020 show, the Showdown team never stopped planning and used the extra year to expand the inaugural event. The 2021 Showdown will include a western clothing fashion show, a concert with country recording artist Lucas Maddy, a cowboy poet, and vendors providing unique shopping experiences leading up to the climax - the Grand Drive.
The event will begin on April 16 when exhibitors, which Calliham expects from all over the country, start arriving at the Riley County Fairgrounds. The show billed as a prospect cattle show offers $5,000 in prizes, begins at 9:00 AM on the 17th with showmanship, followed by market steers/heifers and then breeding heifers.
At 6:30 PM, the event will move to Moro Street beginning with the pre-drive entertainment. No other cattle show in the nation has created a Grand Drive in the center of a famous business district. Aggieville, has an old west charm with wooden storefronts and antique marquees. Calliham has connected the atmosphere of Aggieville with the show's logo, featuring the outline of a theater marquee. While the theater is now Ralley House, the marquee is visible the length of Moro Street and a recognizable Aggieville symbol.
The moment everyone has been waiting for will begin later that evening, when the division-winning steers step onto a city street - a one of a kind showring. Breeding heifer selection will follow the steers, and then the announcement of the showmanship winners and the evening will culminate with live interviews from the winners.
Calliham hopes these interviews, as well as discussions around the ring, will begin conversations about the cattle industry.
"I want the Aggieville Showdown to let people learn about the cattle industry. I want them to see the hard work and determination that goes into raising and showing cattle."
For additional information about the Aggieville Showdown, including entry fees and deadlines: go to