Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
Local livestock breeders and the county's 4-H and FFA youth had been participating in the Savannah "Fat Cattle Show" as early as 1930.
When Savannah's show was postponed indefinitely, the two largest meat packing companies in Georgia, White's Provisions and Cudahy Packing, requested that Statesboro's stockyards hold one of their own.
Statesboro had three livestock auctions: the Bulloch Stockyards, owned by O.L. McLemore; the Farmer's Daily Livestock Market, owned by Homer Parker; and the Statesboro Livestock Commission Company, owned by F.C. Parker.
Statesboro’s first Fat Cattle Show was to be held on April 11, 1940 at Homer Parker's yards and operated under the auspices of the United Georgia Farmers, local Rotary clubs, and the Statesboro Chamber and Junior Chambers of Commerce.
General chairman of the event was Bulloch countian J.E. Hodges, and lead auctioneer was Pierce Leonard of Swainsboro, said to be the premier livestock auctioneer in Coastal Georgia.
Cattle were to be taken off of water and feed 12 hours before the auction. A 1 percent fee would be assessed all cattle sales. The prizes ranged from $1 to $10 depending on the class the cattle were being judges.
The Fat Cattle Show started on April 11 at 1 p.m. when auctioneer Leonard opened the auctions. After the last gavel had sounded, 304 cattle entered into Statesboro’s Fat Cattle Show had been sold for $18,788.62.
The buyers paid a premium of between $9.75 and $10.50 per hundred-weight for "choice" quality graded beef, between $9 and $9.50 for "good" quality beef, and between $8.50 and $9 for "medium" quality beef.
Grand Champion of the show was Stilson's own Montrose Graham and his 1,080-pound hereford, while Reserve Grand Champion was Garner Hall Fields for one of the four steers he had entered in the show.
Other winners were Merriam Bowen (4-H Lightweight), Montrose Graham (4-H Heavyweight), George Thomas Holloway (FFA Lightweight), Garner Hall Fields (FFA Heavyweight), E.L. Womack (Open Ring Light), and Garner Hall Fields (Open Ring Heavyweight).
In addition, the Negro Division winner was George Cone and the Home Bred and Fed Division winner was Garner Hall Fields.
The event was a roaring success. The Fat Cattle Show broadened out into three separate shows: one for Fat Cattle, one for Fat Barrows (uncastrated male pigs), and one for Fat Gilt (female pigs who hadn't yet born litters).
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.