Family legacy leads to winner’s circle, again, with Fort Worth Stock Show champion steer

dfwnewsa | February 2, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Family legacy leads to winner’s circle, again, with Fort Worth Stock Show champion steer

Elli Bezner, 17, of Dalhart, Texas, hugs her brother, Beau Bezner, after her steer was named the junior grand champion at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo on Feb. 2 at Will Rogers Memorial Center. (Camillo Diaz | Fort Worth Report)
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Leadfoot, a 1,324-pound European Cross, is the 2024 Junior Grand Champion steer at the Fort Worth Stock Show. The title is a dream come true for Elli Bezner, 17, of Dalhart, who raised the steer.She hugged her siblings, parents and friends after the announcement, with tears streaming down her face. Bezner explained that raising a grand champion steer has been a dream of hers for years. She showed the steer four or five times over the summer at other shows, and placed third or first in class but never winning the entire show.“My dad and I always knew he was special and thought that someday he might accomplish what we wanted to,” Bezner said.Leadfoot earned his name the day after Bezner received her driver’s license. She described the steer as “ornery” when she first got him. 

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“My dad said I had a lead foot and so did (the steer), and so that’s always been his name,” she said. 

The steer will be sold at Saturday’s Stock Show Jr. Sale of Champions. At the sale, members of the community will bid on the 300 best junior steers, barrows, lambs and wether goats of the show. The proceeds of Leadfoot’s sale will go to Bezner. 

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Showing and raising champion steers at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo runs in Bezner’s family. Her father, Stephen Bezner, also won the show in 1991. Her cousin, Ben Bezner, won in 2018.“It’s a family deal,” Stephen Bezner said. “We all enjoy it. We all do it together.”Elli Bezner, now a junior in high school, has been showing steers in Fort Worth since the third grade. But it took multiple tries to raise a champion. She said she showed two steers that she thought might win the show but didn’t. This year, she and her father thought Leadfoot would be too small to win — but he wasn’t. 

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The judge for the show, Mark Hoge, a professor of animal science at Western Illinois University, said it was like the lights shined brighter when Leadfoot stepped into the ring. He described him as perfectly structured, built and balanced. Winning steers balance the qualities of beauty and beast. Each animal in the ring is elite within their population, he said. That makes it difficult to judge. Leadfoot stood out. 

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“They have to move like a track star,” Hoge said. “And then, when you step back, they have to look like the cover of Vogue magazine.”

Leadfoot might make Bezner some serious money at the auction. The 2023 grand champion steer, Snoop Dog, was a 1,343-pound heavyweight black European Cross that sold for a record-breaking $440,000 — a weight that aligns with what the industry is demanding. The champion steer in 2022 sold for $310,000.For Bezner, the tears aren’t so much from the sadness of saying goodbye to Leadfoot but at the excitement of winning. She spent hours taking care of him, she said, while balancing school and playing volleyball. Raising Leadfoot was a family effort, she said. No matter what, there was always someone at the barn leading Leadfoot one step closer to the winner’s circle.

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org or follow @sbodine120 on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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