Youth, open exhibitors gear up for livestock shows
TIMONIUM, Md. — This year was a little different for livestock showmen around the country. With shows and sales being canceled and other annual events, many exhibitors around the area have had to make changes to their daily routines, feeding schedules and other important things with their 2020 livestock projects. Many winter and spring shows were canceled when the pandemic started, but in a lot of cases, volunteers united to make virtual and small in-person shows happen for youth who have put their heart and soul into their projects this year. The annual Maryland State Fair has been canceled for 2020 but fair staff and volunteers were determined to make its livestock shows come together and present The Maryland State Fair Youth and Open Class Livestock Shows.
Preparation at home for livestock shows has been quite different for many exhibitors this year. There has been more time to work on their animals at home since schools transitioned to online learning and jackpot shows were canceled or turned into virtual shows.
The situation has made one Frederick County youth form a strict schedule for herself and her beef projects.
“Since school has been online and shows have been canceled, I have formed a schedule for myself and my cattle,” said Hayden Hahn, of Rocky Ridge, Md. “Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I rinse the cattle, and Tuesday and Thursdays we just tie them up for a little while.”
An exhibitor in Queen Anne’s County said she has had more opportunities to try new products on her market hogs but also has had a hard time figuring out a good feeding schedule for them as well.
“We always feed our hogs depending on which show we are going to go to,” said Megan Mansfield of Centreville, Md. “We have certain hogs going to certain shows, and each group of hogs get fed differently depending on the show they are attending. Since the pandemic, it has been hard to determine which shows will still be going on and which ones will be canceled. It has been quite the learning experience.”
Each year, livestock kids look forward to their county and state fairs. Many families use their vacation time at these shows. These weeks are when they showcase their hard work, advocate agriculture to the public, and spend time with friends they don’t get to see often. This year, county and state fairs have been much different, but regardless of the circumstances, they still want the opportunity to walk out on the showing ring shavings.
“These groups of kids that are into livestock showing are resilient and do whatever is asked of them so they can get in the ring and show,” said Megan’s father, Tony Mansfield. “I don’t think there is a livestock kid out there that will say if I have to wear a mask I am not showing because at the end of the day all of these kids want to be in the ring regardless.”
With fairs canceling, it has become harder for exhibitors to advocate agriculture. “I like to stand by my projects and talk to the public about them,” said Caleb Chamelin, of Carroll county. “that is one thing I am going to miss the most about the state fair.”
Some counties around the state have held in-person livestock shows for their exhibitors. Exhibitors and volunteers didn’t know what to expect and how well these would go considering social distancing and mask wearing was mandated.
“Our county fair was one of the only counties that did an in-person show,” said Noah Geiman, who was an exhibitor. “It was a little different and I’m assuming the state will be the same.”
Although staying six feet apart and wearing masks seemed like a new norm at livestock shows this summer, a lot of exhibitors said they were just happy to be in the ring to compete and see their friends.
Volunteers became much more appreciated this year and many parents did not let all of that hard work go unnoticed.
“Through all of this it has given me a different appreciation for the people that are behind the scenes.” said one exhibitor’s mother. “There have been so many people who have stepped up during these times and made shows happen for these kids.”
One county in particular was extremely fortunate this year with the amount of support they had from not only the local volunteers but the public as well. Harford County had an in-person livestock sale and it broke sale records from years past.
“Our county fair was great. It felt almost normal. Everyone was so grateful to be there,” said Brody Strather, an exhibitor in Harford County. “The turnout was great for the sale. We had amazing support and we hope to have the same at the state fair.”
First year exhibitors have had a much different year than what’s inspected. The spring shows that help exhibitors prepare for county and state fairs were non-existent. To help ease the nervousness and frustration that these kids and their parents have, more experienced youth and volunteers have been mentoring first year exhibitors.
“There aren’t many livestock people in our county,” said Lindsey Jacobs, an Anne Arundel county volunteer and Maryland State Fair open class exhibitor. “Myself and my mom have given our time to these kids for many years, and hope that we can help ease the first-year jitters.”
Everyone is hoping that the 2021 show season is a little different, especially for kids just starting out in their journey.
When it’s time for the Maryland State Fair Youth and Open Class Livestock Shows, only fellow exhibitors and immediate family will be there watching the shows. In year’s past, extended family, friends and the general public would come to cheer the exhibitors on.
“Although it will be nice not dealing with the flood of people at the state fair this year, one thing I am really going to miss is having my family there to watch me in the ring,” said Hayden Hahn.
While so much has stopped due to the pandemic, one thing that has not stopped is agriculture. “The corn still needs to go in the ground, the animals are still growing,” said a Carroll county exhibitor’s dad. “It has been a fabulous learning experience to see how everything around us has changed day-to-day.”
The Maryland State Fair Livestock Fund will be holding its annual livestock sale on Aug. 31 beginning at 7 p.m. In-person attendance will be limited to registered buyers and online bidding is available at cowbuyer.com.