Steps to the All American

The American Jersey Cattle Club (now Association) was three years old in 1871, when founders explored the idea of creating a national show of Registered Jersey cattle. With the idea of promoting the best of the breed, they were determined to make it work.

However, funds were hard to come by. The Sale of Stars was developed to promote the ‘All American breed’ and assist with funding the event. A commission of 20% was to be charged to consignors. That money was used to pay for show premiums and other expenses during the week.

In 1946, their dream became a reality. In February it was announced the All American Jersey Show and Junior Jersey Exposition would be held in Columbus, Ohio. The four-day schedule would open with a youth show, followed by two days of open show, and finish the final day with the Sale of Stars. That first year, the sale averaged $2,379.68 on 48 head, with the National Grand Champion, Wonderful Dreaming Givia, exhibited by Max Gordon, Ind., selling for a record price of $21,000.

While the first year was positive, the financial performance of the show struggled the following years. In 1950, the Board voted to discontinue the sale, but decided to designate a National Jersey Show site. After struggling to find a location suitable for a majority of the U.S. Jersey breeders, a group of Ohio Jersey breeders came to the Board in 1957 asking how it would be possible to revive an All American through the Jersey organization. The breeders leading the charge were A. G. Samuelson, Chester Folck, and Russell White.

Three conditions were put into place by the Board. First, planning had to be for the show on a “permanent basis.” Second, the planning committee must have a wider representation beyond Ohio breeders. Finally, “The revival of the show (will be) recommended, only when sufficient funds are on hand to finance it,” with $25,000 being the sum named.

The group accepted the challenge. Six months later it was reported they had over $11,000 in the bank with an additional $17,000 in firm pledges. The funds came from over 50 breeders in 19 different states. By 1957, more than $21,000 was committed and several prominent breeders promised to make up the difference if the funds were not raised in time.

With the funds raised and commitment clear from breeders, these promises were enough for the Board to agree to re-initiate the All American for October 1958 in Columbus. Once again, the primary source of funds for the event would come from the sale. Since this time, the All American sale has become much more than a fundraiser to Registered Jersey breeders. It has been a powerful resource in communicating the value and long-term prospects of the Jersey breed to the rest of the industry. For example, the average of the first All American Sale of Stars ($2,379.68) was over seven times the national average auction price for Jerseys that year ($327.20).

The All American Sale

Under the Association’s management, the All American Jersey Sale has been used to introduce and promote official breed improvement programs at key moments in this organization’s history. When the USDA Predicted Difference was adopted as the official sire recognition program in 1967, consignments for the sales after 1968 were screened for the genetic merit of their sires and had to meet the requirement of being sired by “plus proven” bulls.

When the lack of young sire sampling to obtain multiple herd proofs threatened breed progress in the late 1960s, the All American Sale was used to syndicate as many as a dozen bulls annually, starting a cooperative relationship with A.I. organizations that continues today. When the Cow Performance Index for females was introduced, the CPI list was used as a tool to find top cows or their daughters to market the All American Jersey Sale.

Many top names have sold through the sale including Billings Top Rosanne (two-time National Grand Champion); Williams Impressive Idea-ET (dam of SC Golddust Paramount Iatola-ET, six time Premier Sire of the All American Jersey Show); Hases Babes Lad Charo (Canadian national production leader); Pearlmont Impuls Daffy (an early genotyped matriarch of many of the current bulls in A.I.) and many more notable show winners and production leaders.

Today, the All American Jersey Sale is still the most elite of the annual sales held in the Jersey breed. The sale consistently ranks among the top five sales in the breed each year. In 2014, the sale hit a new high with an $11,972.78 average on 45 lots. Ten individuals in the sale, sold for more than $10,000 setting the bar even higher for future sales. To date, 3,336 lots have sold in 66 All American Sales and have realized a total of $14,701,895 for an overall average of $4,407.04.

The sale is important to the Jersey events as commission from The All American Jersey Sale provides the majority of the funds required to operate The All American Jersey Shows and Sale.

The Show of Shows

Year after year, judges can be heard complimenting the quality of animals from top to bottom.

Until 1978, bulls were shown at the All American alongside the best heifers and lactating cows. When the Board agreed to revive the show, it was established the event would be held at the state fairgrounds in Columbus. During late 1965 and throughout 1966, an effort to bring the national breed shows together at one location was organized. This effort yielded the North American Dairy Cattle Show to be held in Columbus. In 1967, the Board of Directors approved joining the All American Jersey Show and activities with this event.

A fire in the barns in 1972 brought the All American show to an abrupt halt. Fifty-six senior heifer calves had just been checked into the ring on October 10 when the show announcer Richard Kellogg of COBA calmly brought the show to a halt. Everyone raced to the barn to release some 1,500 animals from the main dairy barn and two adjacent barns that were quickly engulfed in flames. Only one animal was lost. The fire had been set by area teenagers to cover up some thefts of exhibitors’ property.

The show never quite recovered after the incident and in 1977, the All American was relocated to Louisville, Ky. From this time on, it has been held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition each November.

The Futurity

Jersey breeders from across the United States can be seen enjoying the view of the National Jersey Jug Futurity. Three-year-old cows parade throughout the ring as the best representations of the breeding programs from which they originate.

The dream for this event came from seven Ohio Jersey breeders who envisioned a Jersey futurity class patterned after the famous Little Brown Jug, a three-year-old harness horse futurity held annually since 1946 in Delaware, Ohio. The group organized the Jersey Jug Society and furnished the funds necessary to have it incorporated under Ohio laws.

The original idea of the show remains in place today. Animals must be nominated by December 31 of the year in which it is approximately one year old, then fees paid each year for three more years to keep it entered in the show.

The first full-fledged National Jersey Jug Futurity took place in 1954. With the revival of the All American in 1958, the Jersey Jug Society transferred responsibility for administering and staging the Futurity to the Association. The first show managed by the AJCC was held at the All American in 1959.

All American Junior Show and Activities

The Junior All American Jersey Show

As the leadership of the AJCC hoped in 1946, the All American Junior Show has succeeded magnificently at focusing young people’s attention on the joys of working with Registered Jersey cattle. It is fitting that the juniors be singled out in some way during the celebratory year, for the first All American was designed in many ways mostly for them.

The challenge to the “Jersey boys and girls of America” was this: “Your All American Junior Jersey Exposition puts you a par with established breeders. It is up to you to prove that you are as good in our class as they are in theirs.” Indeed they have done so over the years and many of the youth who have participated in this event have, or are, making their living as Jersey producers, or have pursued professional careers elsewhere in the dairy industry.

The Pot O’Gold Sales

The Pot O’Gold Sale was the only “new” event added when the All American was revived in 1958 and has served as a model for programs worldwide. The sale of genetically superior calves selected from the top herds in North America is for junior bidders only. A percentage of the sale gross is set aside in a fund, then held for three years to provide cash awards for the junior owners whose heifers complete the highest production records.

Originally, just 10 heifers were sold, but over the years the numbers have steadily increased. The Pot O’Gold sale has went on to make history in 2011 when it was the first sale to offer the first line-up of animals to be 100% genomic tested. Each year, 22 cash prizes are awarded to juniors whose animals meet the contest requirements at the end of the animals’ first lactation.

Junior Recognition Banquet

Upon the completion of the Pot O’Gold Sale, junior members gather for an event to recognize their hard work throughout the past year. Awards for the Pot O’Gold and National Youth Production contests are presented, as well as owners of the day’s champion animals are recognized. In addition, the National Youth Achievement contest winners are announced and presented their awards.

Perhaps one of the most prestigious points of this event is during the scholarship presentations. The AJCA prides itself in offering over $30,000 worth of scholarships to its youth in various stages of education. These are only possible due to the generous donations and contributions of Jersey enthusiasts past and present.

The final segment of the night includes the crowning of the National Jersey Queen. These individuals are evaluated based on four categories: application, dairy knowledge quiz, interview, and public speaking. The Queen will travel and promote the Jersey breed and organizations for the next year and begin her official rein during the National Jersey Jug Futurity.