Beef Empire Days events geared to celebrating cattle feeding industry 

A heifer being judged at the Beef Empire Days Live Show, June 6 in Garden City, Kansas. (Journal photo by Kylene Scott.)

John Dohogne had a vision in 1967. He saw an event that would put the spotlight on cattle feeding in the High Plains region.  

Dohogne, the plant manager at Producers Packing Company in Garden City, Kansas, paired up with Earl C. Brookover, a cattle feeder, to host the first Beef Empire Days Live and Carcass Show in 1969. 

An Oklahoma State University study in the late 1960s labeled the area 100 miles on either side of a line from Lubbock, Texas to North Platte, Nebraska as the “Beef Belt of the U.S.” Dohogne and Brookover’s event was a salute to the great “beef empire.” 

The modern-day event is 10 days of celebration, with twenty-something events geared toward athletics, arts and humanities, and of course, the cattle feeding industry. Dedicated volunteer chairs and sponsors as well as the cooperation of Finney County and the City of Garden City host the annual event.  

According to its website, Beef Empire Days’ original goals remain. They include: advancement in the production and quality of beef; improvement of communications; and continued education and promotion of beef. These goals guide the board of directors and the many volunteers who organize the events that make up Beef Empire Days.  

Agriculture centric events include: 

May 31—Specialty Risk Insurance Ranch Rodeo, Finney County Fairgrounds, 7 p.m. Admission is free. Three-man teams will compete at this free event that features traditional working cowboy events and skills. Most typically use a combination of roping, horsemanship and groundwork skills to create a representation of real-life ranch work. Up to 20 teams will compete in doctoring, mugging and penning. Entry forms are available at  

June 1—Commerce Bank Chuckwagons in the Park, Stevens Park, 11:30 a.m. Admission is free. An old-fashioned barbecue meal with all the fixings will be available and visitors can enjoy chuck wagons, family entertainment, food, music and family fun. Serving begins immediately following the completion of the parade at approximately 11:30 a.m. 

June 1 & 2—Sunflower Livestock Showdown, Finney County Fairgrounds. Admission is free. In its third year, this youth livestock show will feature entrants from southwest Kansas and the surrounding area to compete in beef, swine, sheep and goat divisions. There will be showmanship, breeding and market classes for each species. June 1 will be beef classes only, starting at 3 p.m. On June 2, swine, sheep and goat classes will begin at 8 a.m. 

June 1—Bulls, Broncs and Rodeo Driven by Legacy Auto, Finney County Fairgrounds, 7 p.m. Tickets are required. This Kansas Professional Rodeo Association event will feature some of the most talented professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls in rough stock and timed events. There will be a “mutton money run” for the kids, funny man Donnie Landis, and the Clydesdale hitch from Broken Spoke Clydesdales in Winfield Kansas. Immediately following the rodeo enjoy The Boot Scootin’ Rodeo Ball featuring Steel Skarecrow. Food trucks and a beer garden will be available. Tickets are $5 at the gate, or FREE at any sponsor locations (Legacy Auto, Central Power Systems & Services, Hertz, Ascendance Truck Centers, Bomgaars, Crazy House, KanEquip, and Mary Street IceHouse).  

June 2—Empirical Timed Events Feedlot & Sponsors Team Roping and Barrel Race, Finney County Fairgrounds, 10 a.m. Admission is free. Area feedlot employees and sponsors will compete in team roping and barrel racing at the Finney County Fairgrounds Grandstand Arena. Only current BED sponsors or feedyard employees can compete. Entry forms and information available at 

June 4—Merck Animal Health Live Show, Finney County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m. Free admission. Cattle will start arriving at sunrise for the live show, and organizers said anyone with an interest in the cattle feeding industry are invited to watch as Live Show judge Kelly Bruns sorts through the steers and heifers.  

Bruns grew up on a diversified livestock and cropping operation near Grand Island Nebraska. He received his undergraduate degree from University of Nebraska and his doctorate from South Dakota State University where he taught and conducted research in growth and development of beef cattle with an emphasis in management effects on carcass quality. Bruns was a professor of animal science at South Dakota State for 18 years. For 10 years he coached the livestock judging and meat animal evaluation team. During that time, he coached three National Champion Meat Animal Evaluation Teams. In 2014, he accepted a position at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, Nebraska where he serves as director of the research and extension operations where nine PhD specialists who work in cropping systems and beef cattle research. 

June 4—Public Pick 5 Contest, Finney County Fairgrounds, noon. Entry fee is $10. Top three of men’s and women’s divisions will be paid out. Youth division will receive an award. Men, women and youth are eligible to pick five steers during the live show they believe will be the top placers in Beef Empire Days Index during the carcass show. 

June 4—Scoular Grain Cattlemen’s Steak Cookout, Finney County Fairgrounds, after conclusion of the live show. Merck Animal Health and Scoular Grain invite all Live Show attendees, producers, and feedlot personnel and the general public for the noon lunch at the Finney County Fairgrounds Arena. Meat provided by Tyson, and beef will be grilled by Klaus Outdoor Wood Pellets and Outdoor Living. 

June 5—Beef Empire Days Sponsors Reception, Moonlight Harvest, 6 p.m. Ticket required. Beef Empire Days will honor and appreciate sponsors and guests. This event provides an opportunity to network with customers and clients while enjoying food and beverages. A beef buffet dinner will be catered by John Ross & Co Catering. Cocktails, a DJ, cornhole contests among others will fill the evening.  

June 5—Beef Empire Days People’s Choice Auction, Moonlight Harvest, 8:30 p.m. Ticket required. The auction will include the top 25 placing heifers from the live show. According to organizers, the objective is to select the heifer with the highest BED index score. The top three heifers based on the BED index score, will be paid. Participants and buyers alike are invited to join in on the fun–filled event. 

June 6—Zoetis Cattle Working Contest Finale, Deseret Cattle Feeders, 10 a.m. Lunch at noon. The cattle working contest is open to all area processing crews and allows participants an opportunity to learn about the latest trends and check out new equipment. Preliminary rounds are judged at entrants processing facilities and took place in April and May. The top 6 teams from the preliminaries are invited to compete in the grand finale. Lunch sponsored by Datamars will be served after the completion of the contest. 

June 7—Carcass Show at Tyson Foods, Tyson plant, 2 p.m. The public is invited to view the carcasses of the steers and heifers entered in the Merck Live Show. The Beef Empire Days, Inc. Board of Directors would like to thank Tyson and their staff for their contribution to the continuing success of the Beef Empire Days Carcass Show.  

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Carcasses will be judged by Blake Foraker is an assistant professor in meat science at Washington State University. He holds a bachelor’s in animal science from Kansas State, a master’s in meat science from Colorado State, and a doctorate in meat science from Texas Tech. His expertise pertains to meat animal growth, carcass composition, and eating quality. He has extensively studied the growth, carcass yield and performance, and eating satisfaction of beef products of beef x dairy crossbreds. He currently holds a teaching and Extension position at WSU, where he also serves as the coach of the meat judging and meat animal evaluation teams. 

June 7—Awards Banquet presented by American AgCredit and Zoetis, Clarion Inn, 6 p.m. Ticket required. Social hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by a meal. All the Live and Carcass Show awards will be presented, as well as awards for the Cattle Working Contest, Feedlot Special, People’s Choice Auction, Public Pick 5, and Ranch Rodeo. In addition, the Beef Empire Days Academic Scholarship recipients and winners from the Sunflower Youth Showdown will be recognized. The coveted Earl C. Brookover Award will also be announced. Call 620-275-6807 to purchase tickets: $30/ticket 

June 8—Western State Bank Beef, Beer & Boots, Stevens Park, 3 p.m. Admission is free to park. Beef Empire Days partners with Western State Bank and the All American Beef Battalion to offer a laid-back, fun family event with beef, entertainment, beer garden and music. Touch-A_Truck & Tractor will get attendees up close and personal with equipment involved in farming, ranching, emergency responders and those working in the beef industry. The All American Beef Battalion will be grilling a “cowboy Philly sandwich” for a $10 suggested donation. 

June 9—Beef Empire Days Cattle Crawl, The Baron’s Steakhouse, 4:30 p.m., ticket required. Events wind down with food and beverages during some of  the beef empire’s prime selections served at several of Garden City’s local establishments. Participants meet at 4:30 p.m., at Baron’s Steakhouse and Bar and will be ferried from location to location aboard their own “stagecoach”, courtesy of Garden City Community College. End the evening with an amazing meal at Baron’s Steakhouse where the first round of beverages is on Roto-Mix. Only 100 tickets will be sold at $75 each in advance only. Contact BED office to purchase tickets at 620-275-6807. 

For more information about Beef Empire Days visit

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].

PHOTO: A heifer being judged at the Beef Empire Days Live Show, June 6, 2023 in Garden City, Kansas. (Journal photo by Kylene Scott.)