Siblings Sebastien and Matthieu McCarty and their cousin David Reed were brushing their steers late Wednesday morning in the beef barn.
“You wash them, blow dry them, and fit them out,” Sebastien McCarty said.
Reed had won grand champion in the bred and fed category that morning at the Park County Fair. Sebastien netted reserve grand champion. Both Sebastien McCarty and Reed had been showing steers for eight years, with Matthieu McCarty showing for two.
Reed and Sebastien McCarty competed in senior showmanship, though they wound up with steers they hadn’t originally planned to show. Injuries, including a broken leg during loading, narrowed their field of animals, though they still wound up with eight steers at fair between them and Matthieu. The younger McCarty went on to win in junior beef showmanship that afternoon.
At the Park County Fair on Wednesday, the focus was on 4-H showmanship, with beef and swine shows being presented as the day went on.
Sometimes a competitor’s steer is more than just a project. For Ryan Decker, the heifer he showed at fair was a special honor.
Since October, Decker has been working with a Northern International Livestock Expo merit heifer, an animal he was awarded after an application process earlier this year. He had to demonstrate his ambition and ability to care for the animal.
After it was given to him, Decker has been giving regular reports on the animal’s progress. He took the heifer to several jackpots before fair and will be presenting her at the NILE show in Billings in October.
Though Allison Edwards didn’t show her pig in the 4-H categories, she was on hand for bred and fed. She is a member of the Buffalo Bill FFA club in Cody.
Her sow was one of the chapter’s herd, born at the FFA barn earlier this year. Edwards was showing a pig for the first time this year, and enjoyed getting her ready.
“I’ve been walking her morning and night the past few weeks,” she said. “After that it was clipping, bathing, and lots of baby oil. The only problem was that she’s really lazy.”
The swine showmanship competitors were under the watchful eye of Justin Niccoli, a livestock judge, who has been around showing for 40 years.
“It started when I was a kid out in that ring showing,” he said. “I’ve seen it from about every angle you can, from a parent to a judge, to an owner.”
He spoke highly of stock-growing’s ability to instill responsibility in young competitors. He has seen it in his four children, all of whom show.
“It’s one of the greatest teaching mediums we have,” he said. “Not just about raising stock, but about life in general.”
As showing kicked off in the afternoon, the top presenters for steer were crowned. For the intermediate division, Hadley Cooper took home the champion’s ribbon.
She is in her fourth year showing steers. Her preparation process consists of working and washing her steer every day, especially in the month before fair. Still, it’s ultimately down to the presenter to win in showmanship.
“I try and focus on looking at the judge,” she said. “If I can stay calm, my steer will stay calm too.”
Hunter Koster took home the top spot for senior showmanship. She is in her last year of 4-H showing.
“It feels really good,” she said of winding down her career with a win.
Koster routinely ran mock shows with her steer leading up to fair, getting the animal used to being in the ring. The work paid off. To those following after her in 4-H, she offered some advice.
“Stick with it,” she said. “Work hard and at the end it will be worth it. You’ll have lots of memories and lifetime friends.”