KENT, Ill. — For TJ Wingert, showing dairy cattle at fairs
and the World Dairy Expo is a family event.
“Dad got me started with dairy cattle when I was 8 years old
for my 4-H project,” he said. “I started with one cow and carried on from
The 16-year-old dairyman now has seven cows and eight
“I started with Ayrshires because that’s what dad had, and I
also have two Guernsey cows because I wanted to try something different,” said
the son of Trent Wingert and Desiree Ewinger.
He exhibits cattle at several county fairs, the Illinois
State Fair and the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.
“I would also like to go the North American show in
Louisville,” he added.
“I like to show because I meet new people, make friends and
make a little money,” he said. “And it’s a fun hobby because I’m around family a
A couple months before show season starts, Wingert begins to
prepare his dairy animals by tying them up every day, washing them every other
day and brushing them. “TJ spends a lot of time by the stock trailer, clipping
and washing cattle,” his dad noted.
“On the day of the show, the dairy animals get a special
feed and oat hay, which helps show their capacity,” the young dairyman said.
“We wash them starting at 5 a.m. when the show starts at 8
a.m. The tail gets puffed up, and my sister does that for me.”
“TJ helps me get my cows ready, too. We’re a good team,”
added Jazmin Wingert, who will be entering eighth grade this fall.
“And their older sister, Janine, helps when she can,” Trent
Last year, the family members won the Junior All American
Senior Three Year Old class at the World Dairy Expo. And, in 2006, they showed
the Junior All American Two Year Old.
The junior showman travels to events with his uncle, Terry
“With my uncle, we took 19 head of cattle to the show,” the
youth said. “And I also took 15 pigs to the county fair.”
Wingert also enjoys competing in showmanship, and he was the
top male Ayrshire showman at the Illinois State Fair last year.
“And last year I showed the Reserve Supreme Ayrshire heifer
at the Stevenson County Fair,” he added.
For his swine project, Wingert raises Duroc, Chester White
and crossbred pigs, and he currently has seven sows and their litters.
“I show the hogs at county fairs, Illinois State Fair, the
World Pork Expo and jackpot shows in Wisconsin,” he said.
“I showed the champion barrow at the Stevenson County Fair
last year, and I’ve won the swine showmanship class at the country fair for
several years,” he added.
Wingert markets about half of his pigs at the sale barn in
Dakota as feeder pigs and the rest at the sale barn when they reach market
Competing with both dairy cattle and pigs is quite a
commitment for the Wingert family.
“Last year for the Illinois State Fair, we were there from
Tuesday through Saturday with the pigs,” Trent Wingert recalled. “We came home
for a couple of days and reloaded the trailer with the dairy cows and went right
back down to show.”
This fall, TJ Wingert will be a junior at Pearl City High
School, where he is very active in the FFA chapter.
During his freshman year, he won the section dairy judging
contest, and the Pearl City team placed first. In addition, Wingert placed
fourth in the section FFA livestock judging contest.
He also is a member of the Pearl City Hornets 4-H Club and
currently is the club’s treasurer.
“I am the leader at our 4-H club for getting a 4-H dairy
judging team started,” he said.
In addition to his family, Wingert stressed there are
several mentors who have assisted him with his livestock projects and livestock
“Zach Damrow is like my big brother,” he said. “He taught me
how to show, and he comes here and helps us with our cattle.”
Kurt Wolfe is another important mentor for Wingert.
“He taught me some of the finer points of getting cattle
ready for the show ring,” the youth said. “Lots of people have helped
“TJ is blessed to have good mentors to teach him about
livestock, but he also searches out this type of person,” his dad noted. “Last
year, he helped a photographer taking cattle pictures at the state fair.”