BUHLER -- Ranchers from every corner of Kansas will converge on Buhler Saturday for the state’s third Kansas Cattle Drive.
Pens lining Main Street will be filled with bulls from around 25 seedstock producers. The drive not only helps promote the producers, but educates the public about where their cheeseburger comes from, according to Reno County Extension Agriculture Agent Darren Busick.
“We’re promoting bull sales and seedstock producers around the state, so we try to reach the ranchers, but also reach the moms and dads feeding their kids cheeseburgers,” Busick said. “And there’s something for everyone; the whole thing really has a ‘fair’ atmosphere.”
The Kansas Cattle Drive has featured a variety of guest speakers the last two years. This year Dr. Temple Grandin will discuss livestock handling and the spectrum of autism in two different talks.
Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and an autism spokesperson. Grandin discusses her own experiences being on the spectrum of autism. She is well known for inventing the “hug box” or “hug machine,” which helps to calm people on the autism spectrum. Grandin got the idea for the box after seeing a squeeze chute used for cattle at a family ranch in Arizona.
“Along with Dr. Grandin, we’re having a foster care appreciation,” Busick said. “If people register by Feb. 15, they can get a free meal and earn CEUs -- continuing education units -- for listening to Grandin.
“We also were approved through the state to offer CEUs for social work.”
Other speakers will include Clint Rusk, head of the Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University. Rusk grew up on a ranch near Sun City, Kansas, and was a livestock judger and collegiate livestock judging Coach.
“We try to bring in speakers with a wide range of experiences and perspectives,” Busick said.
The day will also include a Beef Quality Assurance certification course and roundtable discussion with Farmer and YouTuber Derek Klingenberg, Reno County Farmer Jenny Burgess and Flint Hills Rancher Debbie Lyons-Blythe. The three will discuss branding for ranches.
A unique event
While Main Street is lined with bulls, Buhler High School will be home to a trade show with nearly 70 vendors. Vendors range from feed, equipment and insurance companies, to cow dog breeders, toy makers and educational groups.
Busick said the public is welcome to view the livestock and take part in the activities. Saturday’s events include a Beef Quality Assurance certification course, children’s activities and concessions stands operated by the Buhler Methodist Church and the local 4-H livestock judging team.
Busick said the diversity of the Kansas Cattle Drive has helped it grow.
“I think it’s just a really unique event,” he said. “The first year we had ranches from all corners of Kansas.
“There just aren’t many things like it, and we filled a niche that was needed.”
The first Kansas Cattle Drive brought in an estimated 600 guests, and last year’s drive grew to around 2,000. Busick is estimating anywhere between 4,000 and 6,000 guests Saturday.
The idea for the event came four years ago at a Reno County Cattlemen’s Association meeting, Busick said. Rancher and Seedstock Salesman Jeff Smith mentioned an event in Valentine, Nebraska -- the Heart City Bull Bash -- and thought a similar event may help smaller producers like himself get noticed.
For three years now, the event has been organized by the Reno County Cattlemen’s Association, Reno County Extension and Future Farmers of America -- with particular help from the Buhler FFA.
Animals will be unloaded and the trade show will open at 9 a.m. Saturday. The trade show is open until 3 p.m., with events spread throughout the day. Grandin will speak at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Rusk will speak at 2 p.m. The “Branding Your Ranch” roundtable will begin at 11 a.m., followed by BQA at noon.
Chance Hoener’s agriculture roots started on farms and ranches in Southeast Kansas. Now he covers Kansas agriculture as the Kansas Agland editor. Email him with news, photos and other information at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (620) 694-5700, ext. 320.