KANSAS CITY, Mo. — George and Harry Tjardes of Gibson City were inducted into the Hereford Hall of Fame during the Hereford Honorees awards ceremony at the American Hereford Association’s annual membership meeting and conference on Oct. 25 in Kansas City, Mo.
The Hall of Fame award is presented annually to those who have influenced the advancement of the Hereford breed.
“We are honored to recognize these individuals and their families for their commitment to the Hereford breed and beef cattle industry,” said Jack Ward, the AHA’s executive vice president. “They continue to set the standard in the areas of genetic improvement, marketing and leadership.”
Starting out with 10 cows their father purchased, the late George and Harry Tjardes of Gibson City began raising Hereford cattle in 1946 and built a nationally recognized herd. Harry Tjardes always took a “think-before-you-do” approach, while George Tjardes was known for “measuring out” every decision for the operation.
The Tjardes boys, as many knew them, decided to purchase a herd bull to take their genetics to the next level, which led them to purchase Beau Aster Hervalation 14th from Leland Herman of Wayne City, Neb. George Tjardes wanted to exhibit the offspring at local county fairs to help put the Tjardes name on the map. Despite not being old enough to drive, George Tjardes strategically bummed rides to 14 fairs.
In 1955, the duo began exhibiting at the Illinois State Fair. The brothers would go on to have a champion, or at least a reserve bull or heifer, every year until 1966.
The 1958 state fair was especially notable as the duo claimed champion and reserve bull, champion and reserve female, get-of-sire and best six head — a feat still unmatched to this day.
Their national show career peaked in 1975 when they exhibited the national champion female and reserve national champion bull at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. Outside the showring, George and Harry Tjardes hosted major successful sales averaging more than $5,000 multiple times in the late 1970s, opening the door to partnership opportunities across the U.S.
The brothers each served as president for the Illinois Polled Hereford Association, and both of their wives were active in the Illinois Poll-Ettes. George Tjardes attended the University of Illinois, and Harry Tjardes attended Oklahoma State University. George Tjardes and his wife, Marilyn, and Harry Tjardes and his wife, Gale, have raised their children and grandchildren to be Hereford breeders, farmers, rural bankers, veterinarians, ruminant nutritionists, accountants and engineers.
George and Harry Tjardes were also known for helping young agriculture and cattle enthusiasts. Scott Torrance of Media, Ill., interned for Tjardes Farms and later partnered with the brothers. Torrance said he considered their operation the “golden standard” in Illinois.
“The system and methods of George and Harry, and their drive for perfection have had a lifelong impact on me,” said Torrance. “They truly upheld the highest ideals of a man and his livestock. George and Harry were true visionaries and role models for a generation.”