Nebraska Living E-Newsletter

Rural Living: A Day in the Life of an Exhibitor at the County Fair

Midway rides, deep fried foods, carnival prizes and laughter can only mean one thing: it is county fair time! For many, county fairs are an evening of magic and entertainment for families. For the kids exhibiting livestock, it is the culmination of a year of hard work as they compete to see who will reign supreme and share the story of agriculture. Meet Clara, Halee, and Chase: three livestock exhibitors from across Nebraska who are set to show their livestock projects at their county fair!

Meet Clara!

Clara is a Lancaster Farm Bureau member from Walton. She is a rising senior serving as the president of Joe’s Clover Knights 4-H Club and the Palmyra FFA Chapter. This year she will be showing beef cattle, goats and sheep at the Lancaster County Super Fair.

What does a typical show day at the fair look like at the county fair?

“We as a family go to many different shows throughout the year so our show routine is fairly efficient. Typically, the day starts early and takes the whole family to wash and dry animals so they can be ready to go and still have time to relax and not stress. At some point, as we are getting the livestock ready, we remember that showmen also have to be show ready, so we rush to put earrings in and wash the mud off our hands! The show itself goes fast! My sisters and I often have multiple livestock projects to show on the same day. So, my sister might have to hand me her sheep to show so she can jump on her horse and show in a different arena. We all work to help each other. The day goes fast, but when you come out of the showring for the last time, it really is bittersweet.”

Tell me about your projects.

“This year I have three calves, two goats, and a lamb. I have a market steer (male cattle) named Zoo, a heifer (female cattle) named Indie, and a feeder heifer. Each day I wash them twice and brush them, training their hair to go in the right direction. I have two goats-Major and Rookie. Each day I make sure to take them on long walks for exercise.They also get their hair washed. My little sister taught my sheep, Sid, to jump obstacles like a horse. When he isn’t jumping around, I exercise him and work this leg hair, so he is ready for show day.”

What is your favorite part of the fair?

“My favorite part of the fair is Elite Showmanship which is a “round robin” showmanship contest for the champions of each senior showmanship division across all species. Showmanship is where the judge evaluates my ability to show my project, not necessarily the quality of the project. Every champion has to show the animals of every other species-beef cow, meat goat, pig, sheep, and dairy goat. I used to watch it so intensely when I was younger, and I have been able to compete in it twice and it is quite the challenge! It has been a really good way for me to meet other showmen and expand my overall showmanship skills..”

Favorite fair food?

“Funnel cake of course!”

Fun Fact:

“It takes almost four trailer loads to pack up all of my sisters and my livestock and horse projects and all the stuff we need to be at the fair for a week!”

Meet Halee!

Halee is a Polk County Farm Bureau member who will be an eighth grader in the fall. She is a member of the Clever Clovers 4-H Club. She will be showing hogs at the Polk County Fair this year.

What does a typical show day look like at the county fair?

“Our day starts early on show day. Luckily, we are able to camp at the fairgrounds during the fair, so we don’t have far to go. We start by washing our hogs to get them clean and ready for the show. After that we condition their skin and hair. Then we put our pigs back in their pen before the show, so they are calm and relaxed for the show. Before we start the show, we have a big exhibitor meeting to go over the schedule, how the show works, and other stuff like that. There are always lots of people to help move pigs to the show ring when it is time to show. Then it is time to show!”

Tell me about your projects.

“This year, I have four pigs at the fair: two barrows and two gilts. A barrow is a castrated male pig, and a gilt is a female pig. I work with my pigs a lot at home. We walk them every day and train them to keep their heads up. We want them to do this in the show ring. We also wash them and condition their skin to make sure they will look good at the show.”

What is your favorite part of the fair?

My favorite part of the fair is being able to spend time with my friends. When we are in the barn hanging out, we like to walk around the midway, go to the derby or the rodeo, stuff like that.”

Favorite fair food?

“Nachos and Sloppy Joes”

Meet Chase!

Chase is a 10-year-old 4-Her from Loup County. He will be taking his Hereford heifer to the Loup County Fair.

What does a typical show day look like at the county fair?

“We wake up around 4 a.m. and eat breakfast on our way to the fairgrounds. When we get there, we exercise our cattle, then wash them, blow dry, work their hair, then feed them. When the calves are done eating, we let them lay down and rest for a while before we give them more feed. Then we start fitting (doing their hair for show) about an hour before the show starts. When we are done fitting, we have to make sure we have the correct clothing and equipment for us and the cattle to go into the ring. About 10 minutes before we go into the ring, we give the cattle water. After we complete our class at the show, we break down the calves, or take all of the product out of their hair, by giving them another bath at the wash rack. After all that, let the calves rest until it is time to feed them again.”

Tell me about your project.

“This year I have a Hereford heifer that is polled (not horned). She was born April 10, 2022. She is sired (born) out of a bull (male) called Endure. She is bred to a bull called Trust and we expect her to calve around March 1, 2024.” 

What is your favorite part of county fair?

“My favorite part of the county fair is getting to play with my friends one last time before school begins. I also like the premium auction so I can get money and put it in my savings account to buy a calf next year.” 

Favorite Fair Food?

My favorite fair food is walking tacos.

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