• 39°

Children gather to showcase livestock at fair’s 4H competition

Thursday evening children and their families from across the county gathered at the Pearl River County Fair to enter their livestock in the yearly youth competition. Livestock ranged from beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, swine, chickens and rabbits.

PRC 4H Extension Agent Alex Shook said this competition is one of the oldest traditions in the county fair’s history.  Children up to the age of 18 are invited to bring their cattle to the fair to compete in two categories, the showmanship class and the regular class. In the showmanship class, children are judged on how well they handle their animal and present it to the judges. In the regular class the animals are judged against each other.

Shook said the children who compete can be 3 years old or younger – as long as they can handle their animal. For children to apply, they had to either be a resident of Pearl River County, or be a member of the county’s 4H or FFA program.

Shook said the purpose of the competition is to teach children valuable life skills. These skills include basic animal husbandry, responsibility and teamwork. Children compete for ribbons, rosettes and cash prizes. However, Shook said one of the best rewards is simply the child’s pride of having their cattle judged.

Contestant Renee Harris showcased dairy cattle in the contest. Harris said she has been competing in the program for most of her life and has won first place several times. She said she is the only senior participating this year, so she has been trying to get others involved before she graduates out of the program.

“It’s hard work, but it pays off. I’ve enjoyed it the whole time,” Harris said.

Contestant Emma Malley said she has been competing for seven years and usually focuses on the beef cattle competition. She said she’s usually nervous before the competition, but then gets excited. She said her favorite part is meeting new people and experiencing new challenges. Malley said participating is a lot of fun and it’s taught her to be responsible and hard working.

She said they enter cows into the competition up to two years in a row before they are retired. After retirement, cows are either used as breeding heifers, or sold.

Kaci Ladner said she has been competing since she was a toddler. She participates in the beef cattle competition and has won the showmanship category several times. She said showmanship is all about the participant’s relationship with his or her animal.

The poultry and rabbit show took place at 5 p.m. on Thursday at the fairgrounds. The dairy cattle competition took place at 8:30 on Friday morning and the goat, sheep, swine and beef cattle show will take place Saturday morning at 8 a.m., Shook said.