Red vests and smiling young faces filled the Ed Teague Arena in Montgomery March 9 at the Alabama Junior Beef Expo Showmanship Contest sponsored by Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance.
Clay McGuire of Lee County won Overall Supreme Showman and the senior showmanship class. Almost 200 young people from around the state competed in the show, and each received a fleece vest from the Farmers Federation.
Federation President Jimmy Parnell said youth livestock programs teach valuable lessons for life inside and outside the show ring.
“This program develops some extremely good young people because it teaches responsibility,” Parnell said. “It teaches you to work hard, to think and get along with other people. It also teaches you about winning and losing. There’s probably not a kid in this program who hasn’t lost at some point in time, and then won again later. They learn to work harder to get to that winning position.”
Junior Supreme Showman for the contest was Rayne Starkey of Jackson County. Kylie Elrod of Cullman County was honored with the Alabama Cattlewomen’s Association Scholarship as the highest placing female exhibitor.
The showmanship competition highlights months of work by children who feed, groom and train their beef calves in preparation for the show. While steer and heifer shows evaluate the animal’s conformation, showmanship focuses on the handler’s ability to exhibit the positive attributes of the calf.
McGuire and Starkey said they work with their calves twice a day, usually before and after school. Work ethic is the greatest lesson learned from showing calves, they said.
Class winners received custom portfolios, and the supreme showman in each division received a Farming Feeds Alabama tent. Winners also won ribbons and cash prizes. Parnell said he’s happy the Federation and Alfa sponsored the event.
“This is our future,” he said. “The parents are our customers, our friends, our neighbors and our farmers. But the kids are the future of the state of Alabama and agriculture.”
Photos of the class winners and a video about the show are on the Federation’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Follow the links on AlfaFarmers.org.