Youth compete for livestock honors
By Matt Caulder
Published in News on April 25, 2014 1:46 PM
DUDLEY -- If Hank had known that winning Grand Champion Beef Calf of the Wayne County Junior Livestock Show and Sale would get him a blue ribbon, he might not have given his handler such a hard time in the ring Thursday.
Rebecca Grady, 16, struggled to control the 1,000-pound steer at the Wayne County Fairgrounds at the 66th annual event, but she did well enough to bring home a first-place trophy.
Youths from across the county gathered this week to show their goats and cattle at the Wayne County Fairgrounds
First, the exhibitors were judged on the way they presented their animal. An obedient animal is usually a good thing, but sometimes when one is harder to control it gives the handler a chance to show his or her skills, said Kevin Johnson, Wayne County Cooperative Extension director.
"It's possible for an animal acting up to actually help the exhibitor," Johnson said. "If the exhibitor handles the animal well and brings it back in line, it can count positively toward them."
In practice, Hank obeyed commands fine, Rebecca said. But when it came time to move in the arena, he didn't seem to want to budge.
Despite his stubbornness, he earned not only the top prize but a permanent place in the Grady herd.
"I don't think he will ever be steaks," Rebecca's mother, Heather, said after the show. "He means too much to us now."
Rebecca will take Hank on to compete at the North Carolina State Fair in October before he goes out to pasture for the rest of his days.
"It feels really great to win with him," Rebecca said. "I'm excited that I came in first."
Mrs. Grady was excited as well, after searching high and low to find a suitable steer for the competition.
"I spent two days in front of the computer looking for a steer. Usually, we pull them out of our field, but none of ours were big enough," she said. "They are born at different times of the year and we didn't have one the right age."
The judge for the competition, Ben Carpenter, said that Hank was balanced all through, had great bone structure and strong legs to support a lot of meat and was wide enough as well.
Rebecca didn't have too long to celebrate the win. Following the showmanship competitions were the market competitions.
Finally, the steers were auctioned off for sponsorship money that the families had collected for them ahead of the show, some from businesses and others from the family.
Most of the exhibitors are putting away everything they make from the show.
"Rebecca has a lot saved up for college so it's really good," Mrs. Grady said.
She collected $2,000 for college and still got to keep Hank.
Rebecca also finished third in the senior calf showmanship division.
While Rebecca's sister Caroline, 9, came in fifth in the junior calf division, the day was still a success in Mrs. Grady's eyes.
"We wanted to get her one she could handle," she said of her younger daughter. "I was worried one would take her a drag her and then she might never want to do it again."
Caroline has been showing goats and was looking forward to her first year of eligibility to show cows, in her case a heifer named Charlotte.
"Her heifer won't win the meat market but we chose her because she was the most docile," Mrs. Grady said. "We rounded up all of our heifer calves and chose the most calm one."
The move paid off as Charlotte let Caroline lead her around the pen without much fuss, with only experience holding her back from placing higher.
And as Carpenter said, "The experience will come with time."