There are lessons in life that can be taught by family and friends, including those of a four-legged nature. If there is any doubt, speak to any one of the 117 entrants at the Pettis County 4-H Youth Livestock Show who will attest to that fact.
The event hosted Sunday and Monday at the Swine Pavilion on the Missouri State Fairgrounds was a learning experience for participants and adults of all ages.
“These shows teach the kids a lot of work ethic,” Livestock Committee Chair Nick Gerke said Monday morning. “It gives them the opportunity to show off all the hard work they have accomplished over the last year. No matter how they place or show they have completed a project and they will always have that to show for their work.”
Gerke has been involved with the program for nearly two decades. Gerke watched as both his sons Adam and Tyler Gerke showed in their youth and continued to do so until they aged out of competition for FFA members at the State Fair at 21. 4-H exhibitors may compete until the age of 18.
Like many who exhibited during the event, competitors begin at a young age, often showing in multiple categories.
Sunday morning, Noah Garrett was exhibiting rabbits for the first time in competition. He would later show goats but not before learning some helpful tips from rabbit judge Jenna Ellison. Ellison, who was been judging competitions for three years, talked Garrett through the process of judging helping to ease his nerves before asking him to demonstrate his knowledge of his rabbit’s breed, the mini loop.
“This is my first time to show my rabbits but I’ve learned a lot,” Garrett explained after the judging. “The best part has been doing it and the nice people I have met.”
Gerrett explained he didn’t know when he would show his rabbit Winston next because he was “full up with goats for (preparation) for the state fair.”
Before leaving he did take the time to talk to Hannah Anderson and her sister Brooke. The two have shown mini loops since they were young girls. Now in their teens, the pair plan to show until they reach the age limit for exhibitors. Both will show at the state fair. Hannah will have a busy fair as she will also be competing for the title of Missouri State Fair Queen after winning the title of the Cole Camp Fair Queen last fall.
While admitting there is at times some sisterly rivalry in the show ring they too were grateful for the friendships and bonds they have made during competitions.
“We’ve made a lot of friends and learned a lot, especially with people like Jenna (Ellison),” Brooke said.
Zach Cordes started showing livestock at the age of 5. Now 12-years-old Cordes, showed both a Chester market barrow and a junior bull calf on Monday.
Prior to entering the show ring with his barrow, named simply “Pig,” Cordes told his mother, Ginger Cordes, he didn’t feel confident he would win. Cordes eventually placed third in the event. Cordes spoke to both his mother and father, Larry Cordes, after leaving the ring. The three discussed what they felt the judges were looking for Monday.
Rather than be disappointed by the result, the young showman explained he had raised Pig since Pig was bottled weened in March, adding it was “OK because I’m having fun showing him and making some new friends.” Cordes then headed off with his father with Pig at his side to get ready for his next event.
“He really works hard taking care of and working with his animals,” Ginger Cordes said. “We really are proud of him.”