A Walk Through (NAILE) Time

After the Chicago International shut its doors in 1971, then Kentucky Governor Wendell Ford had a big ask for the Kentucky State Fair Board -- he wondered if Kentucky could host a major livestock show. The fair board found enough interest to start a Beef Cattle show named the North American Livestock Exposition. Little did they know their decision would significantly impact the livestock industry for decades to come.    

In its first year, NAILE hosted 1,742 heads of Beef Cattle in Freedom Hall from 40 states and 3 Canadian Provinces. The five breeds represented were Angus, Polled Hereford, Hereford, Charolais, and Shorthorn. Now, every breed of cattle in the US is shown in Louisville, along with Sheep, Swine, Goats, Horses, and more.  

The inaugural year of NAILE also had a few youth events, such as the National 4H Livestock Judging Contest, along with other collegiate and youth competitions. Today, many youth events call NAILE home as the show works to help raise the agriculture industry's future.  

Since its inception, many aspects of NAILE have changed. Entries have grown to around 26,400 in 2023, and buildings at the Kentucky Exposition Center have been renovated; others have been added. What remains the same is the tradition and the love of livestock. What once started as a small but mighty show has become the prestigious North American International Livestock Exposition exhibitors that visitors have come to know and love.