Fair’s goat show, animal dress-up reflect on past while looking to future
HAYDEN — Tears fell from Emily Howe’s eyes as she accepted a champion reserve award during Friday’s 4-H goat show contest, a longtime custom of the annual Routt County Fair.
“Four-H just means the absolute world to me,” Howe said. “It’s made me develop so much more as a person.”
Howe, a resident of Hayden, has 11 goats at home and has participated in 4-H for most of her life.
She was among dozens of children, ranging from elementary to high school students, showing goats in Friday’s competition.
4-H judge Jason Miller flew up from Texas for the competition. As Miller announced calls and watched the skills on display, the crowd filled with 4-H parents roared in applause and gleefully snapped photos when their kid’s name was called.
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“It’s a family tradition and it’s so good for them,” said PJ More, grandmother of Macie Smith, a three-year 4-H participant.
Competing in 4-H is a long tradition in Smith’s family — her grandmother showed cattle and did leather sewing while her mom and aunt both raised livestock.
“Kids are here on an equal basis, and they all just treat each other with respect and have fun,” More said. “They’re willing to help the new kid, no matter how old or young they are, they’re willing to help the new kid jump across some hurdles that they might have.”
Smith, of Steamboat Springs, began competing when she was 9 years old and won grand champion, a first place award in showmanship, which is a contest to measure how well a participant can command and handle their animal.
“I’m not really here for the win, it’s more for the animal to enjoy it and to meet people,” Smith said. “It’s a really good learning experience for people so you can learn different ways to show different livestock.”
Because agriculture is such a strong part of her family, More drives up from Colorado Springs each year to watch Smith compete.
“It’s just about doing the best you can and getting to know other people and also getting away from all of the electronics and tech that kids are around,” More said. “I like how the kids can compete without having to have that pressure of needing to be the best.”
Howe said the event is special to her because 4-H brings kids from a wide variety of backgrounds together to work toward common goals: raising livestock and appreciating agriculture.
Miller, who also competed in 4-H as a child, said judging the competition was an honor because of what the competitions provided him in his life.
“It’s rewarding because you get to give back and you get to look toward the future and what the future is going to be,” he said.
Ahead of the 4-H competition, fair attendees participated in a unique competition: dressing themselves and their animals in themed costumes and competing for the best-dressed, most creative duo.
“We do it every year because it’s so fun,” said Ann Kvols, of Steamboat, whose two children and small dog dressed as Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow from the classic “The Wizard of Oz.” “It’s kind of grown every since the first year, and we hope to let it keep growing because the grandmas and the seniors really enjoy it.”
Miller said such traditions, with children participating, are fun for kids and adults, as adults can reminisce on their days competing in contests and mentor the next generation.
“You get to see where the future is headed and it’s looking awfully bright,” he said.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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