09/30/13 — Beef Heifer Show held Sunday at Wayne fair

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Beef Heifer Show held Sunday at Wayne fair

By John Joyce
Published in News on September 30, 2013 1:46 PM

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John Caleb Heath, 12, tries to help his heifer relax during the showmanship competition of the Open Junior Beef Heifer Show at the Wayne Regional Fair on Sunday.

The Open Junior Beef Heifer Show at the Wayne County Agricultural Fair is typically a big draw for competitors, but the crowd at this year's showing included mostly friends and family of the contestants, organizers said.

With 23 animals being shown by 16 individuals, it was enough to fill the stands.

"It was an average crowd," show director John Hart II said.

Contestants and their animals were judged in two classes of competition Sunday, earning points on a regional circuit that will culminate in a grand prize awarded at the State Fair later this month.

The first competition, in showmanship, is all about the presentation.

Hart explained that the boy or girl showing the animal is critiqued on how well it is groomed and placed at the time of the judging.

"The judge is looking for the individual to have the animal look their best, makes sure all four feet are square, and then the judge might ask a question to see how well they know their animal," he said.

Questions range from the age, condition or breed of the animal to what sorts of improvement the young caretaker sees can be made for the creature in its next showing.

First- through sixth-place winners in all three age classes take home cash prizes starting with $50 for first-place. The cash awards reduce in $5 increments with each subsequent placing and the rest take ribbons.

"It's not about the money," Hart said.

It's not even about the silver belt buckle awarded to the points leader at the end of the circuit season at the state fair he said.

The showmanship circuit consists of a number of shows in places like Wayne, Wilson, Lenoir and Duplin counties, he said.

The kids on the circuit all come to know each other and forge bonds that will last a lifetime, throughout their school years and later, in business.

"It teaches them, they learn things like responsibility, patience, how to care for the animal and about their nutrition and care," Hart said.

All of these lessons are vital is sustaining the agricultural industry in eastern North Carolina and across the country, he said.

Following the showmanship round the question on everyone's mind is answered with the market classes showing: "Where's the Beef?"

The market classes judges the meat on the animal, Hart said.

The judge assess each animal on a structural basis, looking at the length, width and arrangement of the animal to see just how much meat it will produce at slaughter.

Hart has worked with animals all his life and his son showed cattle and other animals on this very circuit he said. His son has gone on to judge competitions, as recently as this very month and as far away as Ohio and New York.

"You would think a 1,000-pound animal would be hard to control, but the juniors really have them under control," Hart said.

"They really know about their product and the beef industry."