Why Do Kids Show Farm Animals at the Fair?

By Cristin Shepard On July 30, 2018

Cristin Shepard grand champion

Remember learning how to ride a bike or drive a car? At the beginning I was nervous and had little confidence in my abilities. At times I even wondered if it was a good idea! With practice and help from others, I eventually got a good handle on things. Now I’m a pro at riding a bike (with no hands!) and driving a car (while jamming to my favorite tune—that’s not just me, right?).

This same experience happens when kids show livestock.

If you’re not familiar with what’s involved with showing livestock or why folks do it, let me explain. Basically, a kid is tasked with the responsibility of purchasing or raising an animal and caring, loving and training it to be shown at an event like a fair or livestock show. At the event, the youth presents the animal to showcase its best physical features to a judge. The judge then ranks each animal by species on structure, muscle and quality, as well as the youth on their ability to show the animal.

Showing livestock provides kids a sense of community, teaches important values and expands their horizons.

Cristin Shepard showing sheep
I was older than most when I started showing. Kids can start at seven, but I was 14 when I decided to show sheep. Much like when I learned to ride a bike and drive , I was nervous and unsure about showing for the first time. I don’t remember much (it was quite a blur), but I know I didn’t exhibit the level of skill kids much younger than me did. As time went on there were people kind enough to offer me guidance because they wanted me to succeed. With their help I was able to build confidence and lasting relationships. Confidence so high and relationships so close, once two of my friends and I switched lambs and dressed them up in tutus during showmanship (no kidding). Making memories like these is just one reason showing is so impactful.

I’m also grateful for the skills I developed. I learned the value of hard work, perseverance and the skill of not being a sore loser (or winner). It takes a lot of time and experience to refine many of the skills needed for success, but I believe livestock showing gives kids a leg up when they venture out into the real world. It did for me.

My favorite thing about livestock showing is the opportunity it gives kids to expand their interest in agriculture. A lot people don’t know this, but you don’t have to live on a farm to show livestock or join 4-H and FFA. If your kids are genuinely interested in nature, animals or agriculture (or at least learning more about those things), I would encourage them to join an organization to learn and explore.

Participating in livestock showing certainly provided me a wealth of opportunities and experiences. I recently caught up with kids across the state to see what their experiences were like. I hope you enjoy hearing what they had to say. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit your county fair or check out the Kansas State Fair  animals, I hope you do now!

I caught up with some kids participating in county fairs across the state this summer and asked why they enjoy showing. Here's what they said.

Why do you show?

Rhett Newby

Rhett Newby
Senior, Montgomery County

“Nothing can beat hard work. When you just put your head down and keep working hard and don’t give up, you can make a lot of different things happen”

Layne Denny

Layne Denny
Junior, Montgomery County

“You have to be responsible, you can’t just sit around.”

Trinity Kuehn

Trinity Kuehn
Intermediate, Montgomery County

“It teaches kids responsibility. There is more than just being inside; it gets you outside and you get to learn about the animals.”

Morgan Harvey

Morgan Harvey
Junior, Butler County

“It’s hard work. You have to get up early in the morning and feed and work with them every day to achieve your goals.”

Tatum Brunkow

Tatum Brunkow
Senior, Pottawatomie County

“Showing has taught me how to work hard and take pride in what I am doing.”

Wade Minihan

Wade Minihan
Senior, Pottawatomie County

“Some of the most hardworking, talented, and successful people show livestock and are involved in the industry.”

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