Coping with adversity part of exhibiting animals at fair

Time training animals helps, exhibitors say Exhibiting Animals

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Tell Rathman shows off his steer during the stock sale at the Grant County Fair Friday. The show ring is where the kids learn if their summer's work paid off.

MOSES LAKE — The payoff for all the work done by FFA and 4-H livestock participants comes at the stock sale, Friday morning at the Grant County Fair.

Kids spend all spring and summer (and winter, if they’re raising a steer) taking care of their animals, feeding them, keeping them warm or cool depending on the weather, training them for the show ring. They spend all week at the fair feeding and watering, cleaning the barn and stalls, persuading the animals to keep their cool, figuratively and literally.

And most kids, if they’ve made the right decisions, see the payoff. “Of course, anything can change when it gets to fair,” said Brooke McKnight, Ephrata.

Friday morning almost every single steer required extra persuasion to enter the sale ring – their owners pulling from the front and fair volunteers pinching cow tails from behind. The blast-furnace hot weather Wednesday and Thursday really annoyed the pigs. Fights broke out in the fitting and showing rings.

But then coping with adversity is part of the challenge. In fact the entire process is a challenge, beginning with animal selection.

Kameron Docking, Othello, took home grand champion ribbons in steer fitting and showing and market class. So Kameron, at least theoretically, knows what to look for when selecting a fair animal.

But it’s not that simple, he said – it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know which calves will turn out to be good fair animals. The owner can improve his chances by working with animal, “getting them used to you.”

When it comes to putting in the time, “as much as you can be with them is best,” Kameron said. “Some of them need a lot more work than others.”

“You have to work with it on a daily basis, practice with it, feed it,” said Veronica Moreno, Othello. Veronica earned a blue for her steer and got a callback for fitting and showing.

Success does mean spending time with the animals, “a lot of time,” said Myles Lee, Quincy. Myles took grand champion ribbons for fitting and showing and market class, in his case for his pig. “You work with every day to make sure it can turn and go forward,” Brooke said.

Iby Soliz, Royal City, started working with her pig about two weeks after she got it. “You start training and working with it, with love.” she said. It worked for Iby. “I did good. I got three first places.”

An owner has to be willing to experiment and see what works, Myles said. “You can do different things,” different foods, different routines. There’s another thing. “You have to have the right showing utensils,” he said.

“You have the same turning tool you started training them with,” said Tamaira Jurgens, Soap Lake, whether that’s a cane or a stick.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at

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