History Behind the Iconic Green Shavings

An ionic staple and tradition of the North American International Livestock Exposition remains strong 50 years later! We’re talking about the green shavings, of course.

While visiting the American Royal in 1973, Harold Workman, former NAILE General Manager, was impressed by a green wood chip used in the show rings and wanted to come up with something similar for the new livestock show planned for the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. Back in Kentucky, he approached Roy Gibson, owner of Feeders Supply, about developing a green wood shaving.

Initially, the shavings were dyed using green food coloring, but that didn’t hold up well against animal urine or water. Now, the kiln-dried pine shavings, which are shipped from Florida, are permanently died green by Feeders Supply – a Kentucky company. The permanent green dye is an ode to Gibson, who perfected the ionic bright green color.

When the green shavings would arrive on-site, they were hand-shoveled into the arena. But given some time and new technology, they are now spread on top of the dirt in Freedom Hall with converted manure spreaders.

Today, the dark, concrete floor of Freedom Hall is still transformed into a bright and joyful show ring that thousands of animals and exhibitors from around the country will grace over the next two weeks, all of them hoping to fulfill lifelong dreams and ambitions of taking home the coveted purple and gold banner!