In 1994, the Duroc, Hampshire and Yorkshire swine breed registries were merged into the National Swine Registry, and Darrell accepted the role of CEO – a position he held until 2011. During his time with the National Swine Registry, he played a key role in the formation of the National Jr. Swine Association. He also served on many national livestock boards, including President of the National Pedigreed Livestock Council. He has served as a consultant for several other breed associations, including beef, sheep, alpaca and draft horse.
Darrell and Merlene were first exposed to the llama industry, when Darrell served as the auctioneer for the Huff Ranch Production Llama Sale in 1986 in Oregon. They were captivated by these amazing creatures and officially joined the llama industry forming Solid Rock Llamas in 2000. Solid Rock Llamas grew to about 20 llamas, and they produced several national champions in recent years. Due to some health issues, they have reduced their herd to six breeding females.
Darrell put his past livestock experience and knowledge to work and quickly became a well-respected judge in the llama industry. He has judged llama shows in 15 different states over the past 18 years, including the first Gathering of Friends
and Champions. He is currently a member of the ILR Governing Board as the chair for the Judges Committee and has also served on the ILR Halter Committee. Darrell has been auctioneer for many of the top llama and alpaca sales in the country. His most memorable was the record setting Burgess Dispersal sale in 2003, which averaged $16,000 on 200 head, and included the record-selling llama when Newevo sold for $220,000. – a record that still stands today. Darrell has also served as auctioneer for the LFA sale each year since its inception, and he couldn’t do it without Merlene who has handled all the clerking duties for those sales.
In 2013, Merlene had a dream of creating a fun llama show themed around one of their other passions...basketball. With lots of persuasion, Darrell finally agreed with Merlene and they initiated the first March Llama Madness Show in Howe, Indiana. It was moved in 2015 to C-Bar-C Expo Center in Cloverdale, Indiana. Built around a basketball theme, the show has grown into the largest llama show in the country, attracting almost 400 head this year from 24 states. The MLM Sale of Champions has attracted some of the very best show prospects each year, and this year’s sale featured three females that all sold for MLM record prices topping out at $20,000.
Merlene works throughout the year coming up with innovative new classes, including Best 6th Man, Rookie, 3-on-3 tournament, youth halter classes, and the llama halter judging contest.
Merlene’s efforts to make March Llama Madness one of the top llamas shows in the country do not go unnoticed. The enthusiasm generated around this show set an electric and infectious tone to kick off each show season for many exhibitors. Many people in the llama community attribute the recent upswing within our industry, including prices of llamas, to the work and marketing Merlene and Darrell have put into their show.
Darrell and Merlene have two sons, Ben who lives in West Lafayette, and Greg who lives in Zionsville, Indiana. They are blessed with six grandbabies – four boys and two girls, with a seventh grandbaby due in September.
Darrell and Merlene Anderson
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Both Darrell and Merlene were born and raised on livestock farms in SW Minnesota. Darrell graduated from South Dakota State University in 1972. While at SDSU, he was a member of the livestock, meats and wool judging teams. The couple was married in 1975.
Darrell’s career path included 5 years as Cottonwood County Extension Director in Windom, Minnesota, where in 1980, he coached the National Champion 4-H Livestock Judging Team. While in Minnesota, Darrell and Merlene had a very successful purebred sheep operation, and Darrell served as President of the National Suffolk Sheep Association. Darrell also judged sheep shows in 27 states and began a successful auctioneering career, while Merlene helped raise two boys and as many as 120 Suffolk ewes.
They moved their family to West Lafayette, Indiana in 1987, when Darrell was hired as the Executive Secretary of the American Yorkshire Club.
The 2019 Gathering Dedication
ILR-SD The Gathering of Friends & Champions have been dedicated to:
2011 - Kay Patterson
2012 - Bobra Goldsmith
2013 - Art Kennell, MD
2014 - Murray Fowler, DVM
2015 - LaRue Johnson, DVM
2016 - Norris and Kay Berg
2017 - Steve & Sue Rolfing
2018 - Linda Berry Walker
2019 - Darrell and Merlene Anderson
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