New livestock rules at Missouri State Fair

Author: Kristy

Missouri State Fair says no pro fitters at market shows.

Published on: Jul 15, 2015

When the 2014 Grand Champion steer at the Missouri State Fair failed a drug test, Mark Wolfe knew there needed to be changes.

As youth invest thousands of dollars in show quality cattle, they are no doubt looking for that competitive edge. Often times, they gain assistance from others in the industry to ensure proper feeding and fitting to keep these top dollar calves show ready. And this is where Wolfe, who serves as the Missouri State Fair director, says problem arise.

There are times that if the child is not directly involved in all aspects of the project, they may not know what is being given or done to their own animal. In the case of the 2014 Grand Champion Steer, a diuretic showed up in a urine test that stripped a calf of its title and a young boy of his winnings.

YOUTH TO FIT: Youth exhibitors will be encouraged to fit their own animals for market livestock shows at the Missouri State Fair this year.
YOUTH TO FIT: Youth exhibitors will be encouraged to fit their own animals for market livestock shows at the Missouri State Fair this year.

“What you end up with is an 11-year-old child that is embarrassed,” he says. “He loses all the money from the auction. He has to give the money back. And he cannot come back to show this year.”

This is the scenario Wolfe hopes to avoid by implementing new rules for youth exhibiting market livestock at the Missouri State Fair next month, Aug. 13-23.

Time for change

“This is a youth show,” Wolfe explains. “We want these young people to come out and show what they have learned in their projects.”

Wolfe says the commission contacted a number of other state fairs regarding their livestock rules. However, they settled on similar rules to those found at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

This year the Missouri State Fair will issue wristbands for its youth livestock exhibitors.

For all market animals, the exhibitor and immediate family, which comprise of father, mother, brothers and sisters or legal guardian, will be allowed to wash, groom and fit the animal after arriving on the state fairgrounds.

The junior market exhibitor must wear a wristband. The Missouri State Fair will allow for up to three wristbands per family to be purchased at time of entry. Both exhibitor and family members will receive the bands at check in, according to Wolfe. “Our staff will be putting them on and verifying the information from the entry form.”

These are the only individuals allowed to work with the animal. However, other wrist banded junior market exhibitors may offer help. In addition, in the event of a special circumstance where the family may not be attending the fair, or may not be able to assist the youth physically, the exhibitor’s FFA advisor or 4-H Extension Youth Specialist may request a “Special Circumstances Exemption” by contacting the Missouri State Fair Director’s Office. “These must be done prior to the fair so that the commission can have time to review the request and make a decision,” Wolfe adds.

Time to teach

A few professional fitters have asked the state fair office if they can even be in the barn or standing by the animal. Wolfe says absolutely, adding that this would be the perfect educational opportunity.

The professional fitter can coach the youth exhibitor on where to trim, how to trim and what would make the animal look better. “But if they touch the animal at any point, that is a violation of the rules and if caught,” he notes, “the child will suffer the consequences.”

However, Wolfe says he cannot ban those families whose father or brother may be a professional fitter. “We are not trying to go after professional fitters,” he says. “This is about teaching kids the ropes of their project. If you are a kid that has a dad that is a professional fitter, it is likely he is teaching that kid how to fit his own steers for the future. Agriculture is an industry that likes to pass on their knowledge on to the next generation.”

Time to enforce

Missouri State Fair staff will be perusing the barns for violators. The hardest area to police will be the market steer barns.

“These steers are not in the barns all night,” Wolfe says. “They head to tie outs for the evening with portable coolers and fans. It will be harder there, but not impossible.”

Technology may curb those wanting to test the rule.

Today, there is a camera on almost every mobile phone. Wolfe says that if individuals find a violator, they can snap a photo and send it to the state fair office. It will be kept anonymous. The state fair will use the picture to investigate the situation.

“The most important thing to remember is this is a youth show,” Wolfe says. “The biggest winner will be the youth as they gain more experiences with their animals.”

Posted in In The Industry |

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