(Written by Bailey Clanton with the help of Amy Cowan and Danielle Starr)
The Clanton Family looks back and looks ahead to their involvement with the American Royal
The Kansas City Stockyards is a cherished landmark to many livestock families across the United States. As one of the central locations for marketing cattle in the 1940s, any number of cattlemen could be found in the stockyards. The American Royal has always carried on the tradition of bringing cattlemen together in the heart of the stockyards and in the early 2000’s became an annual event the Clanton family: Brett, Sheryl, Bailey and Cole, Bucyrus, Kan., not only attended, but also took under their wing.
Exhibiting in the junior shows as well as management roles on the auction and livestock committees were the start of the family’s lifelong commitment to the American Royal. In 2004, the committees brought together a group of cattle families that evolved into a cast of characters that would shape the industry, create an environment for youth to flourish and even lend a hand to Brett and Sheryl who had kids showing livestock. The American Royal was the place where Brett & Sheryl met Neil Orth, Stanley E. Stout and Mike & Kay Hartman; individuals who were and now dear friends to the Clanton family and the reason for their involvement with the historic events.
In one short year, Brett and Sheryl quickly found their place as co-chairmen of the auction committee and held the position for six years. Sheryl is quick to say, “When you’re surrounded by your friends that all have the same passion for helping youth determined to excel within the livestock industry, volunteering isn’t work. From planning and executing the first exhibitor social in the back of a pick-up truck in the middle of the cattle barn serving all of the exhibitors, the American Royal has always had a special place for the us.”
Coming together as a cattle family is what the Clanton’s love most about this business and was half of the success of the American Royal. As chairman, Brett and Sheryl helped to evolve the livestock auction while Bailey and Cole simultaneously became more competitive in show rings throughout the country. Every fall the Clanton’s returned to the show ring they called home, in the heart of the stockyards. The American Royal is a short, 30-miles north of their operation, which made their home a hotel during those brisk, fall October days. Even if you weren’t staying at the house, you made sure to stop by on Sunday morning for a Bloody Mary with a kick and amidst the piles of boots at the door, the kitchen would be filled with energetic voices discussing the cattle and tired bodies sitting on the chairs.
Some of the fondest memories as a family involve the people that came together in 2004 for the auction and livestock committees. Reflecting through the years spent at the American Royal, Brett and Sheryl can still feel the excitement of being a part of the first grand champion steer bringing $125,000. Their son, Cole was selected champion out of the heavyweight division in 2006 with a steer name “Stanley.” The steer was named in memory of the family’s dear friend and American Royal icon, Stanley Stout, who they had developed a sincere friendship with since meeting at the American Royal just a few years prior.
There was a lot of enthusiasm that was created during Brett and Sheryl’s time at the American Royal while they led volunteer efforts and fundraising for the premium livestock auction. They laid the foundation for record-setting sales and a vibrant atmosphere for hundreds of youth to exhibit, market their animals and learn the sportsmanship of the livestock industry. The American Royal livestock auction heightened the competition in the show ring. The Clanton family takes pride in being part of building the livestock auction and contributing to a show revered as “where the best are shown”. As new families walk through the barns, they will see the determination and grit in the showmen and the quality of cattle running deep through each class. Their hope is for new exhibitors and their families to benefit from the experiences and opportunities the American Royal has to offer.
To this day, the Clanton family is now involved in the different aspects of the agriculture industry. Bailey and Cole carry on the servant tradition as they help the younger generations get a start in this industry. Bailey has been working for the American Hereford Association since graduation from Kansas State University in 2012. As the National Shows Coordinator and Youth Activities Assistant, she’s working with seedstock producers from across the country to facilitate national shows for the adult and junior associations. Bailey has found her way to working with the youth of the National Junior Hereford Association just as her parents did when she was young. Cole is the current Yard Operations Manager at Pine Landscape Center in Lawrence, Kan., he and his wife Allyson currently run 100 head of Simmental cows, selling around 30 head per year and exhibiting across the country.
The future of the American Royal is being met with excitement from the Clanton’s. The honored traditions of the stockyards in the historic West Bottoms of Kansas City will carry on with the new facility and offer new opportunities to support youth, promote agriculture and educate future generations about the livestock business. Walking into the new facility will be a different experience for the Clanton family. Shavings will be laid on freshly poured concrete, livestock will be tied up to new gates for the first time, new champions will be slapped in the show ring and new families will join the American Royal. However, throughout the new facility, a very similar cast of characters will come together to make a difference in the lives of young people. And from this familiar cast, the next generation will be taking the reigns. At the new American Royal, Cole and Allyson will be in the make ready area getting ready to exhibit their Simmental genetics, Bailey will be in the Hereford ring ensuring the Hereford show and sale run smoothly and as much as they may try to take a step back, Brett and Sheryl will continue to find themselves at the frontline, supporting efforts with the American Royal livestock show and auction.