Last week during our county fair, Jenna stood in the ring for junior showmanship. She was pretty pumped about the whole thing, having won last year's Sunrise Showmanship class for first year showmen. We tried to lower her expectations, given that she was now a 10-year-old competing in a class for 10-13 year olds. It didn't work; she was in it to win it. Obviously.
Fifteen kids walked into the ring for showmanship - a hair too many for the ring size. So judge Adam Dryer narrowed it down to six, based on how they'd shown in class all day. Note to file: showmanship begins way before the actual showmanship class.
Anyway. I sat there and watched as these kids were lined up head to tail. To my left were five determined little girls. They were appropriately attired in pink, purple and turquoise, blingy belts and hair neatly fixed and out of their faces. Fancy show sticks, of course. And every one of them, with the eye of the tiger. Seriously, do not get in these girls' way. They will own you. But they'll smile while they do it.
A little boy stood at the end of the lineup and bless his little heart, he's 10 years old and can't be more than 50 pounds. Dripping wet. He'd had a little bit of a rough day but he'd worked his tail off and the judge had noticed. In fact, in his class, Dryer talked about how hard he was working and little of him there was. "Someday this young man is going to be a great showman, when there's a little more to him. I was his size once, too. I was 16," he said. Big laughter from the crowd.
But back to showmanship. Dryer commented that he was impressed with the depth and quality of the young showmen at our fair. "It is rare at a county fair to see this many kids who do this good of a job," he said.
And it hit me, as I looked down the line: these kids were all from cattle families. Foglesong, Spangler, Kiesewetter, Postin, Eathington, Ruff. These are families that have raised cattle on the ample rough ground in this county for generations. The kids grew up handling calves and moving cattle and nursing bottle babies. It's practically second nature. Their parents have all showed against each other and in a few cases, their grandparents before them. I could tell a few college stories about Mr. Eathington, but I won't.
That's agriculture and that's the cattle business: it's commitment, over generations. It's people committed to raising good cattle and better beef. They aren't flitting in and out of the industry. They're raising their families in the cattle business, and these kids? They're benefitting more than they'll ever know.