By Sara Brown
There is something about the smell of wood chips. It takes me back to the Missouri State Fair, unloading pigs from the trailer and waiting anxiously to guide (or rather push) my animal into the ring. The smell of a freshly busted straw bale brings back the time I learned the proper way to tie a 1200-lb. steer to the fence, after chasing him around the pen again. Cattle adhesive, Ivory dish soap, purple oil… the list goes on.
Those are the smells of the fair for livestock kids. Never do I feel more at home then when those smells waft together with cattle bawling, pigs hollerin’ and children laughing.
This Memorial Day holiday, as members of the Centralia, Mo., FFA Alumni hosted their third annual Jackpot Show, those memories came flooding back. From the announcers stand, I watched nearly 200 exhibitors bring outstanding quality animals through the ring. There were FFA kids, 4-H kids, and kids too young to belong to either organization. Parents and exhibitors circled the show ring to see who would win the champion prize.
Many of these kids don’t come from traditional farm families. They learn about how to raise livestock through teachers and mentors. They learn how to select quality animals, feed balanced rations and properly handle their animals. They learn responsibility, time management and financial accountability.
We often overlook this segment of the industry, but in reality it’s an important sector. While these may just be summer projects for a select few, we need to remember these are our future leaders of the industry, related company personnel and consumers. A local, county or state fair may be the strongest connection many consumers will ever have to the farm.
This year, take a moment to visit your local, county or state fair. Walk through the barns and visit with the kids about their animals. Then check our news section at www.BeefToday.com for the Best of Show slideshow of photos from readers. This week’s pictures from the Centralia FFA Alumni Jackpot Show are posted below.
If you have pictures of kids showing and taking care of animals at the fair or other livestock show, we’d love to add them to our Best of Show slideshow. Pick your top five photos and e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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