WEST ALLIS — A rural Burlington teen may have gotten $47,500 for his grand champion steer at the State Fair’s livestock auction on Wednesday, but he was not solely celebrating the money. First and foremost, he made it a point to dedicate the win to his late grandfather.
Reid Runkel, 17, of Wheatland, speaks fondly of his grandfather, Ronald W. Runkel, who died in 2016. The two were best friends and used to spend all day on the farm together, the younger Runkel said.
“I always wanted to win this for him,” Reid Runkel said. “When I was younger, I always wanted him to be alive for it, but I know he was there with me.”
Before he could claim his title in memory of his grandpa, Runkel had to put in hundreds of hours of work. While he raised Scooby, the grand champion steer, Runkel woke up at about 5:30 a.m. every day to feed the animal breakfast and wash it.
Sometimes Runkel would be caring for Scooby for as few as 6 hours, but he estimated he averaged about 10 hours of work. Sometimes, that could get up to 12 or 13 hours and he would not be back home until 10 p.m.
“You’re not like an average kid (if you raise cattle),” Runkel said. “You can’t go hang out with your friends and whatnot.”
Runkel’s younger sister, Riley, also raises cattle. Her steer was named grand champion last month at the Racine County Fair. While it was frustrating, he said, that she placed higher, “I was still proud of her.”
But one thing Runkel can hold over his sister is that his animal sold for $47,500. Scooby weighed 1,325 pounds, bringing his total cost to about $35.85 per pound.
“Am I in it for the money?” Runkel said. “Maybe a little, but there’s not a better feeling than (winning). I’ve been working for that for a long time. When I sold it for $47,500, it was cool, but it was coolest to get the initial win.”
Runkel, who is about to enter his senior year at Burlington High School, said he plans to put the money into the family farm, which he plans to run one day. After high school, he wants to be a welder.
“I always wanted to win this for him (my grandfather). When I was younger, I always wanted him to be alive for it, but I know he was there with me.” Reid Runkel, teen who raised the State Fair’s grand champion steer