Beef club members gearing up for fall fair

DEVLIN—It’s a summer job unlike any other—and it all comes down to what happens at the Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society’s annual fall fair coming up Aug. 14-19 in Emo.
Sisters Jolene and Samantha Stahn and their cousin, David Donaldson, members of the local 4-H Junior Beef Club, already have spent months preparing their steers and heifers for the annual beef show and steer auction.
And the hard work will continue up until the end of the showing.
“The kids spend all summer getting ready for the fair,” noted 4-H leader Kathy Stahn, adding each of them is hoping their animal will earn the ultimate title of “Grand Champion Steer.”
“The grand champion steer will get the highest bid at the auction,” Stahn explained. “And the kids want to make as much money as they can because it’s their summer wage.”
Stahn noted the club members either will put the money away for their future education, or they’ll use it to purchase another animal for next year’s fair.
“They work so hard—there is a lot of involvement,” she stressed. “They have worked with the animals every day since January.”
The youths have to continuously feed, train, bath, and care for them all year, beginning in November or December when they select a weaned calf for their 4-H project.
Then they have to lead it around and train it to obey.
“A little bit every day goes further than spending hours on the weekend,” Stahn remarked. “One of the quickest ways to train the animals is to lead them to water.”
“If they want a drink, they’ll go,” echoed Samantha Stahn, who will be showing at the fall fair for the second year.
But both girls noted the task can be tough when starting the training. “Sometimes they’re stubborn and want to fight,” Jolene Stahn admitted.
“Starting out, they’re not quiet and calm like they are now,” remarked Kathy Stahn. “It takes a lot of patience—and persistence.”
Sometimes the steer or heifer does not want to be harnessed or doesn’t want to move because of the heat, but the 4-H members learn how to deal with this.
“They get to know how to read the animal,” Stahn acknowledged. “They get to know which ones kick, or could use a push, and what to do.”
There are two classes during the 4-H Beef Show at the fall fair in which the owners and animals are judged—showmanship and the beef class.
The showmanship class tests how well the kids work with—and show off—their animal while in the beef class, the judge looks at the animal itself.
In the show ring, the 4-H members lead the animals, showing off their size and ability to obey. Then they must ensure, usually using a show stick, the steer or heifers stand with their bodies square and firm.
“They will carry a brush in their pocket in case the judge comes by and touches them,” Stahn noted. “They will also carry a rag to clean up drool and whatnot.
“They have to be looking their best—they have to be spotless.”
The judge also may put forth another test to the participants: having them switch animals to see how well they can show someone else’s.
The Stahns’ steers and heifers are bathed a couple of times a week until it gets closer to fair time, when they will be cleansed more often. They also will continue to be brushed and clipped in order to make them look thicker and beefier.
And the work also is intensified for the 4-H members who plan on showing more than one animal. The Stahns, as well as Donaldson, each are showing a steer and a heifer this year.
There also is a category for cow/calf pairs.
Kathy Stahn said about 33 district 4-H’ers are planning on participating in the beef show at the Emo fair next month, with 28 steers and 14 heifers.
“That’s a pretty good number,” she noted. “I like the number of heifers—that will be a very good showing.
“The kids are proud of the work they’ve done and they want to attend the fair because it gives them a chance to show it off,” she added.
Other 4-H projects will be on display during the fall fair in the exhibition hall next to the 4-H food booth, where the 4-H members also work.
The 4-H beef show will take place on Aug. 19 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., with the steer auction beginning at 4 p.m. that day.
“It’s a lot of fun,” stressed Samantha Stahn. “Just to be with the animals—I can’t wait.”
(Fort Frances Times)