It was a big day for beef at the Alabama Junior Beef Expo Showmanship Contest March 19, when more than 150 young people competed at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum.
Sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the show was part of the Southeastern Livestock Exposition, which marked its 59th year. Youth activities began Friday with the market steer show and ended Sunday with the heifer show.
Showmanship classes drew entries ages 9-19 from throughout the state who were judged on how they exhibited their calves as well as the animals’ fitness and grooming. Many exhibitors work with their calves for months to prepare for the show.
Lee County sisters Jewel and Victoria Thompson of Beauregard said while many of their friends are cheerleaders or play sports, they’d rather spend their time fitting and showing cattle. The two competed in over 30 shows this year and put in a lot of hard work, said their parents, Holli and Phillip Thompson.
“We were very blessed at the Junior Beef Expo; they had some big wins,” Holli said of her daughters. “They love what they do, and I hope it shows.”
Victoria and Jewel describe their mom as their coach and teacher, but they are quick to point out that they do the actual work.
“We feed our cows, groom them and walk them every day,” said Jewel, 13. “We learn a lot of responsibility. It’s also helped give me more confidence.”
Her practice paid off. Jewel was the reserve champion intermediate exhibitor at the Junior Beef Expo.
Victoria, 12, weighs only 45 pounds, but she won reserve grand champion in the junior showmanship division with her steer, Twist, who tipped the scales at 1,260 pounds.
“He’s just a baby,” she said stroking the red roan Shorthorn calf. “He just follows me around.”
It takes a lot of time to get a calf ready for the expo, said Federation President Jimmy Parnell.
“Participating in the state show is the culmination of months of dedication, hard work and determination by the young people,” he said. “These are some of the most impressive young people in Alabama, and we are proud to support livestock shows, which help them develop leadership skills, work ethic and responsibility.”
Two Chilton County contestants took top honors in the Senior Exhibitor Division. Anna Grace Parnell was the Grand Champion Senior Exhibitor, and Aniston Bolding was Reserve Champion Senior Exhibitor.
While Jewel took reserve champion in the Intermediate Division, top honors went to Emma Merriman of Etowah County who was grand champion in the division.
Edging out Victoria in the Junior Division was Caden Childers of Morgan County who won Grand Champion.
The 2016 Louise Wilson Scholarship Winner was Anna Grace Parnell of Chilton County. The annual award is sponsored by the Alabama CattleWomen’s Association and presented to the highest-placing young woman of the graduating class.