This week was to be a highlight for the Illingworth family of Fairfield, but has become unforgettable for very different reasons.
For kids who show livestock, a large national show is a chance to compete, and also their family vacation.
"You get more time to spend with your family," eight-year-old Kassi Jones of Bladen said.
The North American Junior Red Angus event is something Kolt and Kody Illingworth were looking forward to. Their cattle are here, but the boys won't be here to collect any ribbons.
Their dad Rex, a dedicated cattleman passed away this week. Now fellow farmers stand together.
Megan Muller of Allen said, "I feel there's so much support for them, we need to overwhelm them with support, no one knew this was coming."
Now the industry Rex gave so much to, gives the family one less thing to worry about.
Garrett Brentlinger of Allen said, "Everybody's helping scoop manure, take them out at night, wash them, show them, and also bring wood chips so it looks nice."
Kids from Cozad and Edgar pitch in, helping in the barns at the Nebraska State Fair.
Muller said, "Many people from the area have helped out getting their calves fed, washed, watered, shown. People who don't even know the family help out and I think that's really cool."
Rex was a supporter of 4–H and Sandy Creek FFA. And along with his wife Amber, believed in passing along the values learned from raising livestock.
The kids who compete against Kolt and Kody now work in their place.
Muller said, "It is extra work, but it's not big deal. If it would've happened in my situation, they would've done the same for us."
Kids like Muller say it's just what Nebraska farm families do.
"I've known this family since I started showing. They show every breed and are so into this. They're family right along with us," she said.
Illingworth passed away in Hastings on Wednesday, at age 59. In memory of him, NTV received a nomination to recognize these kids as farm youth of the month. NTV is honored to present them with this award, and extends condolences to the family. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
A moment of silence was held during the opening ceremony for the NAJRAE show, in his memory.