Having fun and learning responsibility are the main reasons local students participated in the 2013 Cherokee County Junior Livestock Show, held this past weekend at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds.
Cherokee County Booster Club Treasurer Angela Tinsley said the show was a good opportunity for the youth to learn responsibility and good sportsmanship.
Each participant, whether showing for the first time or a veteran to livestock shows, worked daily to prepare for the weekend’s event.
Tahlequah Middle School student Jeb Hix, 11, was new to the livestock circuit. To prepare his hog, Winchester, Jeb started mixing food for the hog to gain more weight and muscle.
“I started walking him to practice for the show,” Jeb said. “Walking builds up leg muscles and gets him used to me.”
Fifteen-year-old Preston Patrick, from Keys High School, was also new to the event. Preston said his cousin participated in shows and told him it was a lot of fun.
“I thought I’d try it,” Preston said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.”
Kenadee Whitchurch, 15, has shown livestock in four other Cherokee County events.
She enjoys it, because she gets to hang out with her friends who also show, and travel a lot.
For 10-year-old Gracee Walker, this year’s event was her third experience showing a hog.
“My pig is a character,” Gracee said. “He’s really funny. He plays with his rubber spider and his toy balls.”
Gracee’s hog, Porky, has gained weight for this go-round. She walks him like the other competitors to get him ready. Sometimes he will run off.
“The hogs are judged on how good they look,” Gracee said. “And [Porky] looks good.”
Keys student Shylia Allen, 17, has been showing hogs since she was a freshmen.
“I like taking care of animals,” Shylia said. “The premium checks are always nice, too, if you make the sale. But you never get all your money back from all you put into it.”
Beef division was the second area of this year’s show.
Keys student Bradyn Smith, 18, has been showing cows since she was in fourth grade.
“It’s fun, and I get to meet new people,” Bradyn said. “It’s a lot of hard work, and I like to work hard.”
Before the showing, Bradyn said, she clips her cow Sugar’s hair, washes her, then uses a blow dryer. “We don’t want a fuzzball,” she said.
Bradyn uses an adhesive to bring the leg hair up. “I poof her hair up to make her look pretty.”
Showing sheep for the second time was Samantha Lane, 12. She likes the money she can earn through the premium sale. To prepare, Samantha walks her sheep and urges it to jump over objects, which makes the animal stronger.
“They judge sheep on how they act and how muscular they are,” Samantha said.
Tahlequah High School student Megan Hobbs enjoys the livestock event because she meets people and learns how to be responsible. She bonds with her animals while she’s caring for them.
“It’s good experience in preparing you to have animals later.” Megan said.
This is Megan’s first year showing sheep; she usually shows cows.
“Sheep are easier to move around and cheaper to feed,” Megan said.
In the past, Morgan Anderson, 18 and a THS student, has shown hogs, goats and sheep. She’s been showing livestock since she was 10.
“I stuck with sheep because my brother started showing them, and I enjoy them more,” Morgan said.
Morgan said when she shows sheep, she can do more things with them.
“I get more into it with sheep than the other animals,” she said. “We exercise every day. I sprint them for a quarter mile every day. When you sprint them, it gives them a jolt of energy that increases their muscles.”
The premium sale featured winners from all categories, and was held Monday.
“Our buyers – individuals and organizations – come in and buy the animal from the child,” said Tinsley. “The child keeps the animal and gets the money.”
According to Tinsley, many times, the child takes the animal to other area livestock shows.
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