Posted 9/15/15 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
The Farm Festival on Friday welcomed back the livestock show for the first time in 15 years.
The revival of the show tied into the return of 4-H last fall.
“I think I was a junior in high school the last time I showed a steer,” Malinda Ferguson recalled.
Ferguson and her husband, Layne, approached the Farm Festival Committee about bringing the show back. She said the committee was very receptive to the idea.
“We’ve been trying to bring this back for a while,” said Farm Festival President Jeremy Carkuff.
Since everyone is new at this, they decided to keep it simple. Traditionally the show is focused primarily on steers. To get the ball rolling again, the organizers decided to open it up to all agricultural livestock, including sheep, chickens, rabbits, and piglets. They also had a jersey heifer and a steer entered.
“So it’s a little bit of everything,” Ferguson said.
The show also didn’t feature a competition. Carkuff said the participating kids will get plaques to acknowledge their participation, but they didn’t have judges to award prizes. The aim is that these aspects of the show can be brought on next year when they’ve gotten a bit more experience running it.
Even with a long break in the tradition, the show this year drew out 12 kids who showed their animals.
Tina Hanson’s children showed off the family goats. The Hansons got the animals to help with weed control in the ditches at their home.
“They’re lawn ornaments,” Hanson joked.
Isaak, Nora, and Jenilynn Hanson have been caring for the animals.
“The kids are learning about responsibility by caring for the animals. They’re really enthusiastic about it,” Hanson said.
The organizers said the values the show instills in the kids is one of the reasons for doing it. Livestock showing teaches them of the rewards that come with hard work. Ferguson noted that 4-H goes beyond just raising animals. The kids learn about running meetings and leadership.
“It really helps build their confidence,” Ferguson said.
She also said the program is helping provide pathways into careers in modern farming. Aspects of the program teach modern farming science and robotics in addition to traditional lessons.
“It’s great to see kids getting back into 4-H again,” Carkuff said.
Some high school students volunteered to help with the show. Tioga High School Senior Manny Morales and his classmate Alex Emeline were among them.
Morales got interested in 4-H as part of the work he’s doing outside of school.
“I work on a farm. I wanted to learn more about it and get better at it,” Morales said.
He and Emeline said they are looking forward to going to nationals this October in Kentucky.
“It’s a really good program,” Emeline said.
For a first year, the event showed a lot of promise. That’s great news for the Farm Festival and the agricultural industry.
“Some of my fondest memories come from 4-H,” Ferguson said.