Kids, Animals and Hopes for a Blue Ribbon
It's been happening for generations. Young people showing their farm animals for judging at the Warren County Fair. It's an important way of life in the country - something city kids may not understand.
It’s Judging Day at the Beef Pavilion. It’s a day when, hopefully, a lot of hard work brings a nice reward. Kael Albers, of Spring Creek, has been working for 275 straight days to get his steer, named Dewey, ready for the judges. His days start early on the farm.
"Wake up at six, then do chores. You have to feed him, water him, hay him, clean up after him and then we have to get ready to go to school,” he said.
The same routine is conducted after school. The hard work was worth it. Kael and Dewey won the big prize. Dewey is this year's Grand Champion Market Steer. It’s not a happy ending for everyone. After all that work, after all the time Kael and Dewey spent together, Dewey will be sold at auction for meat. Farm kids cannot be soft. Or can they?
"You know that it's going to be coming, but sometimes you get really attached to the animal and it gets emotional,” admits Kael.
At the other side of the livestock barn, Madisyn Leofsky, of Garland, is preparing her Red Angus Heifer, named Ginger, for judging. She also has put in long hours with her animal. She explained the preparations she had to go through before showing Ginger in the ring.
"Feed it and water it. Give it hay and then walk it and give it a bath," Madisyn said.
Madisyn and Ginger won a blue ribbon this year. Her dad is proud. Mark Leofsky is the fourth generation to live and work on the family farm and remembers when he brought the animals he raised to the fair. Mark says the number of family farms represented at the fair has dwindled since he was a kid. He isn't sure how long this wonderful tradition of showing animals will continue in his family and others.
"Small family farms, there isn't many of them anymore. So you want to keep that tradition going and you want to be successful in farming,” Mark said.
The livestock sale will be conducted Friday night at the fair.