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Behind the show

The end of the show season is beginning to draw near. Most of the hard work and preparation on our cattle is done; hours of travel behind us; and the awards have been won.

The great victories have been celebrated, and the disappointments have been forgotten. It is now time to head back to school, and also start thinking about next year’s show season.

The next few months will be spent choosing and beginning next year’s project, so that we can be even more successful than this year. Nothing though would be possible without all of the people behind the scenes that work to make the shows happen before we can even step into the ring. Since it is the end of the show season, I would like to pause and thank everyone that makes the show possible.

I would like to begin by thanking all of the breeders who produce show cattle. Without you, there would not be many great quality show cattle to select from for the show ring. Thank you for the time you spend each year breeding, calving and raising the cattle that are shown. They have provided a wonderful opportunity to youth to learn about genetics, evaluation and the overall care of a top level animal.

Next, I would like to thank the superintendents and show organizers for having the show. You make sure the show is a success, so the show will grow larger every year. Your job doesn’t start the day of the show; it starts the day after last year’s show — planning judges, facilities, advertising and doing everything else that goes with a show. Then they have to endure all the complaints about problems at the show, but seldom receive any praise for the success of the show. Without you there wouldn’t be a show.

I would like to thank the judges for taking the time to give me an honest opinion about my cattle. You have taken the time to talk to me about how to improve my cattle and my showmanship. Listening to your reasons has helped me in my judging; learning the terminology of livestock; and have even altered my opinions of what I really need to do to be successful in the show ring. Thank you for all you have taught me about showing my cattle.

Also, I would like to thank the ring men, announcers, photographers and everybody else that helps makes the show possible. It really takes a large behind-the-scenes crew to make it all work.

Many people are involved in the breeding, raising and showing of cattle. Showing cattle has always been a large part of my family. That’s why my largest thank you goes out to all of the show families. Showing cattle is definitely a family project. Thank you to the families that travel countless hours just for a cattle show. To many people, it sounds ridiculous to travel hours just to show cattle, but most families wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Thanks to all the families that pick up the financial burden of showing cattle. The cost of feed, equipment, fuel, hotel rooms, entries and show cattle can be very expensive. Many times these expenses are not fully recovered, but parents see them as tuition to a lot of real life experiences gained by showing livestock.

Thank you for teaching us all you know so we can succeed in the ring, and then we will teach the future generations about showing cattle. Thank you for comforting us when we lose, keeping us down to earth when we win, finding an icepack when we get stepped on or kicked and for being the most under-paid taxi drivers on earth. Nothing would be possible without you, and nothing is more valuable than the time we spend with our families in the barn.

And to the showmen, I would just like to say, cherish your time in the show ring, whether you’re in your first few years of showing or your last because these years are precious. It’s not all about winning, for the ribbons will eventually fade; the premiums will be spent; and the trophies will get pushed to the back of the shelf ... but it’s about the memories made, the lessons learned, the friends you make, and of course, the time you spend with your family.

As I grow older, I am beginning to realize that showing cattle is what I live for, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Jessica Carlson is an eighth-grader at Malden Grade School and works on her grandfather’s cattle farm in rural Malden.

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