Community News

One year of work for moments in the show ring

Special to Atmore News

The Escambia County 4-H & FFA Calf Show starts at noon on Thursday, March 5 with sale starting right after, at around 6 p.m.
In March 2019, youth from across Escambia County, Ala., and the surrounding area gathered for the 2019 edition of the Escambia County 4-H/FFA Calf Show at Perdido River Farms in Atmore. The show saw 41 youth show off the work they did with their 8 heifers and 39 steers. For some of those youth, their financial rewards from showmanship or class divisions were enjoyed for a short time before they were invested into their show calf for the coming year. Some families raise their own calves and select from their herd. Some reach out and visit farms both locally and farther to find a quality show calf. Either way, this was the start of a months-long commitment to work and sacrifice for the youth who will participate at the 2020 Escambia County 4-H/FFA Calf Show on Thursday, March 5.
There is no doubt that many of the youth participating in the Escambia County Calf Program have other commitments as well. I know that we have many athletes in our program: cheerleaders, swimmers, and those who play football, basketball, baseball, softball, or other various school or club sports. After school, church, sports, clubs, and whatever else they had going on in their lives, our youth still had to make the time to feed, water, groom, bond with, and clean up after their calves.
Back in September 2019, we had a record number of 59(!) steer weighed in for the calf program, then had a dozen heifers registered before Christmas break. Last year, we were the largest youth calf show in the state of Alabama and we hope the same holds true for the show coming up March 5.
Youth will prepare and get set up at Perdido River Farms in Atmore the night before and morning of the show. Youth will lead their calves for a final weigh-in before painstakingly cleaning and grooming their calves for the show. The show will start at noon with showmanship classes, which groups youth by age. In showmanship, youth are evaluated on their ability to lead their animal and get it set in the ring, how well they have groomed their animal, as well as by their ability to answer questions from the judge about their animal’s health and conformation features.
After showmanship, the show will move onto evaluation of calves by their weight classes. The winner of each weight class will be selected by our judge and then be brought back in later to be judged against all the winners from each weight class, at which point we will have our champion.
By the end of the day, we will hand out a bunch of ribbons to our participants as well as some highly-sought-after hardware: champion belt buckles for Grand & Reserve Grand Champion Steer, Grand & Reserve Grand Champion Heifer, Grand & Reserve Grand Champion County Bred Steer, and Grand & Reserve Grand Champion County Bred Heifer.
Attached to the nearly 70 calves that will be shown at the Escambia County 4-H & FFA Calf Show are hours upon hours of work that we hope pays off for these youth. After the show is completed and all hardware is handed out, there will be about an hour break for organizing for the sale, during which time everyone can enjoy Pig Daddy’s BBQ food truck and buyers can register and get their buyer number for the calf auction. The estimated starting time for the sale at this time is 6 p.m., but that time may move up or back based on the pace of the show.
The youth have done a lot of work to reach out to sponsors, which helps provide prize money for the show rewards, and have reached out to businesses and individuals to pay premium prices for their calves. If nobody has reached out to you and you would like more information about helping sponsor or buy at the Calf Show, please contact us at (251)867-7760.
There will be a premium sale, in which buyers will pay premium (above market) prices for calves and may either keep the calf or send it to the resale. After the premium sale, the calves being resold will go into the resale, where they will be purchased by their final buyer. We hope there will be plenty of buyers at both sales to make sure these youth make a little bit of money for all the work they have done over this past year. This also means that YOU can come as an individual or get with a group of people and purchase a calf and split the meat.
For some of our youth, this means that they take the money they earned and invest into their show calf for next year. For some youth, this might be their only chance to participate or their final year, so we hope the community will come together Thursday to watch the show and, more importantly, come together at the sale to make sure we are investing in hardworking youth and rewarding them for a year’s worth of hard work.

Kelly Rexroat is a 4-H agent in Escambia County.