By Marlee Moore
Just outside the ring where youth exhibit meticulously groomed livestock, family and friends cheer on their loved ones — and lend support when the showing gets tough.
“These kids think nothing about getting up and going again when they get knocked down,” said Cameron Price, whose niece, Brooklyn, showed beef cattle during the Alabama National Fair Oct. 8-9. “You learn how to be tough. You learn about life and responsibility.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance annually sponsor beef, dairy, goat, sheep and swine shows at the Alabama National Fair, one of many fairs supported by the state and county Farmers Federations each fall.
Before hitting the show circuit, families spend months preparing.
Take the Prices of Lee County.
Together, they select genetics for Brooklyn’s livestock projects, a choice ultimately impacting their overall herd. Decisions are made by patriarch State Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, and wife Oline; sons Cameron and Hunter; daughter-in-law Lisa; and 9-year-old Brooklyn. The fourth-grader at Beauregard Elementary School has a 3-year-old brother, Walton, who is destined for the ring, too.
“When our cows have calves, I’m happy because they could be my new show calves,” Brooklyn said.
Brooklyn and fellow exhibitors spend months working with their cattle, getting comfortable with the animals and grooming them for peak performance.
Beef Cattle Show judge Taylor Farrer of Indiana commended Alabama exhibitors on their daily practice.
“The cattle project, in my opinion, is one of the hardest projects kids can undertake,” Farrer said. “You can’t skip a day when you have livestock at home. It shows when you haven’t put time into these cattle.”
An all-in, tag-team feeling flows through livestock barns outside Garrett Coliseum as youth and their support systems groom animals to enter the ring. In market or breeding animal shows, livestock are judged on structure, soundness and strength, while showmanship tests competitors’ skills.
As youth and their livestock enter the ring, spectators flood the stands, where they anxiously watch for the judge’s final line-up or give gentle guidance from afar.
Farm families split responsibilities during show season, often leaving members at home or dispersed across the state managing farm business.
“While we’re here, we have guys at home feeding our cattle herd,” Cameron said. “On one end of the state, we’re in Montgomery showing cattle, and then we have family members selling cattle hours away. It does take a village.”
Cameron showed cow-calf pairs with his dad, making Brooklyn, the Alabama National Fair junior reserve champion showman, the third generation of exhibitors. She’s the seventh generation on their farm.
“We’re trying to build a herd for her,” Cameron said, nodding to his niece. “We want animals that are functional. Even our show cattle need to be functional and need to perform once they’re done with the show.”
View Alabama National Fair livestock show photos on the Federation’s Flickr page.