Summer spent gearing for the big day

Many 4-H youths in Rainy River District spend most of their summer focused on readying their prize steer—all for one big day at the Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society’s annual fall fair in Emo.
Over the past two months, 12-year-old Savannah Hughes has put a lot of sweat and hard work getting her animal ready for the annual 4-H market steer action this Saturday (Aug. 16).
Each day, Hughes grooms “Zorro,” leads him around the corral, and practices setting up his stance for the big day.
Although Hughes and her family live near Emo, her steer resides on the farm of her uncle, Brent Miller, near Stratton, which tags on even more preparation time for the fair.
“I love working with my steer and learning about the technique, so I don’t care about the drive out here,” she remarked.
“I’ve learned how to comb him so looks bigger for shows, and how he needs to stand to be noticed,” she added.
She also shampoos “Zorro” weekly, hand picks unwanted hairs, and buffs his hoofs—all to make him sell for a higher dollar during the market auction.
“It’s fun shampooing him because after he really shines and looks good,” she noted.
Another important pre-auction step is to make up invitations and send them out to potential buyers in the district, Hughes said.
“The local businesses have been good to us, and we need to make sure we get as many buyers at the auction as possible,” she stressed.
This year, her goal is to place within the top two for showmanship and the top 10 in the market steer category.
“If I place within the top two for showmanship, I won’t have to compete in the novice category anymore,” Hughes explained.
Last year, Hughes placed second in the novice showmanship class with “Philly,” who ended up 12th overall in the market steer category.
Each spring, Hughes hand picks her steer from her uncle’s herd, names him, and grows quite fond of the friendly animal, which makes it hard to part with him on auction day, she admitted.
“It’s always hard on auction day and the day after because he becomes a pet, a really messy one, but I know the process and what has to happen,” she remarked.
As a member of the Emo 4-H Club, Hughes and fellow club members also will be working at the 4-H Booth during the fair, as well as participating in other activities there.
“Fair week is always crazy because it really starts on Monday for us because of all the set-up and animal care,” she noted.
“[But] every year, the fair is a lot of fun and I get to spend time with all my friends and cousins,” she enthused.