Youths strut their stuff at Fair's 4-H Dairy Roundup

August 18, 2004|by DON AINES

WILLIAMSON, Pa. - As she walked into the show tent Tuesday at the Franklin County Fair, Sarah Signore knew she was going to walk out with a blue ribbon.

It was not a matter of intuition on the part of the 15-year-old Greencastle, Pa., girl, just the fact that she was the only 4-H member to enter an animal in the junior 3-year-old dry cow category at the 4-H Dairy Roundup. Her Jersey Marina took the event in stride, except when Sarah hung the blue ribbon on her halter while Sarah's aunt took a picture.

Some of the other categories, particularly for Holsteins, were crowded with entries and the youths who have been working with them for months or years.


"We have 68 youths taking part, showing 136 animals," said Phil Wagner, a dairy educator with Penn State Cooperative Extension Service. In addition to Holsteins and Jerseys, young men and women were wrestling with Guernseys, brown Swiss and red and white Holsteins as they lined up outside the tent waiting their turns before the judge.

"If you train them well they should be good," Sarah said. If not, the animal ends up doing the leading and "takes you with it."

With some of the animals weighing in at more than half a ton, Sarah said the handlers have to let the animal know who is boss.

"There's a lot of training that goes into it. Eventually, they're almost like pets," Ben Cashell, 15, of Chambersburg, Pa., said as he and his 8-year-old brother, Chase, waited to show their fall Holstein calves.

Cashell, who had three animals in the show, picked up a senior champion ribbon earlier in the day with his 3-year-old Holstein, Lillie. He has been showing animals at the fair since he was 8, the youngest age at which one can compete.

"I have eight cows, altogether. I sold my original two," said Joanna Hoover, 16, of Greencastle, who was waiting to show Willow Bank Cisco Moonglow, a 5-year-old Jersey she raised from a calf. "I owned her mom, too."

Many of the competitors, up to age 19, are veterans with years of experience. Some, like Sarah, entered other livestock and craft competitions during the weeklong fair.

In the barns at the Chambersburg Rod & Gun Club, 4-H members and their families primped the cows for their big moment. Emily Stuff of Mercersburg, Pa., was applying a special powder to the hair along the spine of a heifer named Mia.

"You want the hair to stand up nice, for it to be nice and clean," Stuff said as she worked the powder in with a brush. Past the age to compete, Stuff was helping prepare the five animals her brother, Tobin, entered in the show.

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