The Thumb Jackpot Beef Show was “born” when a meeting of the Beef Superintendents of the six counties was arranged by Doug Meiburg, Lapeer County, in December of 1991 at the MSU Cooperative Extension Office in Sandusky.  The following original group of volunteers put together a plan for the first show scheduled to be held at the Sanilac County Fairgrounds in April of 1992:

Lapeer County: Doug Meiburg, Vicki Meiburg, Bill Hinrichsen, Janet Haering

Tuscola County: Tim Ruggles, Greg Daily

Huron County: Tom Ziel, Dennis Hagen

Macomb County: Rick Schapman, Paul Hoxsey, Phil Hoxsey, Richard Falker, Doug Boggs

St. Clair County: Joe Winn, Doug O’Neill

Sanilac County: Ken Sharrard, Marsha Sharrard, Larry Murdock, Karen Murdock, Duane Schroeder, DVM, Kevin Kerbyson, Duane Jahn, Toni Jahn, Dale Leslie, Dan Rich, Sam Rich, Hal Hudson, Beth Doran


The basic objectives that were established for the Show by these founders are as follows:


  • Provide worthwhile show ring and educational experiences for 4-H and FFA members in order to encourage participation in a county fair beef project.
  • Design the focus of the show and educational programs to promote practice for the individual member’s county fair experience.
  • Utilize a modified Jackpot Show format to encourage participation: balance, competition and education.
  • Rotate the show amongst the six counties of the Thumb to even out the workload and allow the show and educational experience to be “close to home” for 4-H and FFA participants at least every six years.
  • Hire a nationally known judge who has vast experience judging many local, state and national beef cattle shows.


Growth in both the Show event and the educational programming has been consistent every year since the first show.  Many opportunities now exist for 4-H and FFA beef project members who choose to participate.

Beef Project Show Opportunities

4-H and FFA youth may enter purebred, crossbred steers and market heifers to be evaluated in weight classes.  The purebred and commercial heifer show features breeding stock project entries.  There are also five classes of showmanship for youth to enter in classes by their actual age: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-19.

Educational Programs/ BEEF BLAST

Beef Project Educational Programs have been sponsored annually and have always been successful as many 4-H clubs, FFA members, as well as individual members, participate to improve skills and gain knowledge regarding their beef projects.  The following is a sample of programs that the show organizing committee has offered over the years:

Showmanship Training

Fitting and Grooming Contests and Two-Day Short Courses

Beef Project Resources and Skill-a-Thons

Getting Started With Your Purebred Heifer Project

How to Pick Your 4-H and FFA Steer/Heifer


In 2006 Doug Meiburg (Lapeer) and Bob Blumerich (St. Clair), Education Committee Chairman, started an ongoing education program called BEEF BLAST.  This program provides 4-H and FFA members, leaders and parents an opportunity to learn about the beef industry through tours, hands-on experiences and educational sessions throughout the year.


Scholarship Award Program

The Thumb Jackpot Scholarship Award Program is made possible through the generous contributions of Thumb Area businesses, farms, families and individuals interested in supporting 4-H and FFA youth who exhibit their steer and heifer projects in the annual Thumb Jackpot Beef Show held each April.  Since 2000, over $126,000 has been donated toward the Paul DeLong Memorial Scholarship Fund, interest from which will be used to award academic and vocational scholarships.  All graduating seniors who have exhibited in the Thumb Jackpot Show at least three years, and are exhibiting their senior year, are eligible to apply.  Scholarship awards may be used for college or vocational training.  Over $66,000.00 has been awarded to participating 4-H and FFA beef project members since 1997, the first year that the Scholarship Awards Program was introduced.



This year’s 4-H and FFA Thumb Jackpot Beef Show and Educational Programs mark 25 years of dedicated volunteer commitment to the program.  Our volunteers are from all seven counties and enjoy working with Beef Project members.  MSU Extension – has served as our headquarters since 1991 and their support with registration, printing and accounting has been invaluable.


This year we look back at the growth of the 4H and FFA Thumb Jackpot Beef Education program…in 1991 a beef show was started. In 2016 many educational programs have been added; Paul DeLong Memorial Scholarship Program, Beef Blast, Essay Contest and Meat Mania.   With the addition of these programs also comes a group of dedicated volunteers to assist with all phases of the program.