Looking sharp: Othello Fair hosts annual market and Fit and Show livestock competitions
A livestock judge observes as Future Farmers of America members move their swine around the Duane Lathim Memorial Show Ring for the market showings Wednesday morning.
GABRIEL DAVIS/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD
A livestock judge announces his observations of Future Farmers of America members’ lambs in the Duane Lathim Memorial Show Ring Wednesday.
Fair participants show their market steers at the Othello Fair in an outdoor livestock ring Wednesday.
A livestock judge looks over Future Farmers of America members’ goats Wednesday for the Fit and Show and market showings.
Othello Future Farmers of America member Mason Russell readies his steer for the Fit and Show portion of the Othello Fair Thursday morning.
Staff Writer | September 14, 2023 1:56 PM
OTHELLO – Hundreds of 4-H, Future Farmers of America and Grange members spent the majority of Wednesday and Thursday at the Othello Fair showing the livestock they have been raising and caring for over the past year.
Showings included both market showings and Fit and Showmanship presentations, said the President of the Adams County Livestock Association Robin Adolphsen.
“So your market animal, the judge is looking at just the animal and it going to market,” said Adoplphsen. “So cuts of beef, lamb, swine, you know, whatever it is, they want to make sure the meat is there for the market. Fitting and showing, you're showing an animal that this person has worked with – now it doesn't have to be a market animal, a lot of times it's a breeding animal.”
Adolphsen then elaborated on the types of animals in the showings.
“There's different kinds because you've got the big animals, but you've also got the small animals, you’ve got chickens and rabbits, which is much more knowledge-based,” she said.
Participants with these smaller animals might need to know information about their breed, other breeds of that animal and characteristics of the animal, said Adolphsen.
“With your big animals, they need to know how to handle their animals safely. It's also how they're fit,” she said. “So you're clipping, you’re fitting prior to the fair and then also the morning of the fair. And then it's being able to make eye contact with the judge, keep engaged, doing everything that the judge asks you to do, being able to switch an animal and still control somebody else's animal that you haven't worked with before.”
The judges are all registered professional judges from around the country, said Adolphsen, and the participant’s interaction with the judge is a significant factor in the competition.
“It's kind of a confidence-building thing,” she said. “They have to be able to speak to the judge when the judge comes around and ask them questions…So it's great to encourage kids. It's a great process to get them to be more confident dealing with the public, getting them out there having the competition.”
Adolphsen said that for 4-H and Grange members, there are extensive requirements before being able to show an animal at the fair, including presentations, meeting attendance requirements, community service and more.
“The idea of all these clubs is to make well-rounded students, who are able to go out into the community and be able to speak about agriculture,” said Adolphsen. “So we're very welcoming and engaging to even those young showmen and then you have kids here who have been showing since they were five and six…So we have the full range.”
Adolphsen estimated that about 30% of the participants are from Othello, and the rest from adjacent counties.
Mason Russell, an FFA member from Othello, was competing in the Fit and Show with his steer on Thursday morning.
“I have to make my steer look good and present him well, so it is not just a judge of how the steer looks, but it's also a judge of how I can work the steer,” said Russell. “He's a little bit of a crazy steer, but I've been working him quite a bit.”
Russell said he had been working with the steer throughout the year.
“It's a learning experience. This is only my second year doing steers,” said Russell. “I do like getting to be friends with the animals, like if you can get a good teddy bear of a steer, or a pig you can lay on those are always fun.”
4-H member Cooper Hall, 17, said he would soon no longer be able to compete in the fair livestock showings when he turns 19.
“I wish I could do it longer,” said Hall. “Seeing the animal from start to finish is probably the most satisfying part of it.”
Piper Ramer, 15, won a Champion of Breed award for her animal. She said her favorite part of showing animals is how much she learns.
“There's a lot of good life lessons, like hard work, determination and how to raise an animal successfully. It's a lot of work,” she said.
Adolphsen said the teaching and skills are not the only goal of the fair’s showings.
“Ideally our fairs are to engage with the public so that you understand what ag culture is and where your food comes from,” she said. “The community that we have here at our fair is very friendly. We're very student and kid-oriented. We want to make it a fun experience for them.”
Gabriel Davis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Download the Columbia Basin Herald app on iOS and Android.