Q & A With Warren Beeler

As the North American International Livestock Exposition hits 50 years, we wanted to talk with those who have been around the show and know it like the back of their hand. We recently sat down with Warren Beeler, the NAILE General Superintendent. Beeler has the been Superintendent since 2016. Fun fact, there have only been three General Superintendents in the show's 50 year history.

Q: What does it take to succeed as an exhibitor at the North American? 

A: My first experience was when I was a college student, and we brought pigs up here and we left Bowling Green, Kentucky thinking we had some really, really good ones, and when we got here, we got spanked pretty hard. And that's just the legacy of the North American is we're showing the best of the best of all species now. You can take a really good one and just really get thumped really good. You got to be great and a little bit lucky to be able to take home a banner to North American.

Q: What's the value of a NAILE experience to young exhibitors? 

A: The wonderful thing about livestock shows is, particularly in the junior divisions with young people, it teaches them if you're lucky enough to win,  it builds respect and in young people that when somebody offers them something they shouldn't take, they're proud enough not to take it. But the bigger lesson is losing and being able to learn from losing. And if you bring two animals, you're going to lose when it comes to that part of it. That's the legacy. Everybody today gets a trophy. Well, not at the North American. We give them here, but you're going to win, you're going to lose, and if you can't learn from losing, you're not going to progress very well. It teaches lots and lots of lessons, and you can be really, really good, and still get beat.

Q:  How has the show grown over the years? 

A: It's the biggest purebred livestock show in the world, not in the United States, in the world. And when you go over in a sheep barn, for example, where we've seen tremendous growth, now 20 some breeds of sheep, and the best of the very best. And in in just the last few years we've added goats, so the scope of having twenty some thousand entries is completely different than it was when we first started with just a species or two.

Q:  What does it mean to win a purple banner? 

A: When you do win one, I mean it's something you hang on to for the rest of your life because it's just hard. You can be good, and you can be great, but you gotta be great and lucky a little bit to do that.

Q:  What did it take to build the success of the show? 

A: Whatever we're doing, we need to keep doing it. We're just so lucky. We're so lucky that we had the right people in the right place to bring this thing from Chicago down here 50 years ago. I'm so thankful for all the ones that have been in that Exposition Office all these years to get it done. You take just the operations part of this thing -- moving in, moving out, rodeo, the whole deal. I mean, it's just a deal. Harold Workman bought the rights for the rodeo for a thousand dollars years ago. He was just such an innovator and such a thinker.

Q:  What's a favorite NAILE memory for you? 

A: A few years ago, I was driving around and checking all the barns, and I seen this family back up. They were from Texas, and they had little Dorper sheep on there. We just started having Dorper sheep, but they came all the way from Texas to show. Somewhere we were a little bit short of pens that year or something, we had cattle panels set up for those guys, and  those Dorpers would have went just right under the panel. So I took them and I went in and got gates and fixed their pens so they'd hold the Dorfers.

I looked in the truck and there was three little girls that were just absolutely wore completely out but could not quit grinning because they'd come to the North America. I think that's a really good example of the kind of families that we have. They didn't come here necessarily to win it all. They came here to make good kids. And that's what we're doing with these junior shows in all the barns, is that we're trying to make good kids by using livestock to do that. That family came back and hugged me and thanked me later. Because, you know, you pull in this place-- it's huge. They're scared and, by taking them by the hand and helping them get to their pens and get everything set, I made friends forever.

I've seen them since then too. So they come back, they come back.