Throughout the summer, hundreds of hard-working 4-H members work with their livestock projects, teaching them to lead and set-up. The animals are fed on a program, and their exercise is essential. All of this work leads to one event: the county fair.
These 4-H members competed in several livestock divisions for the Grand Champion of their species at the 133rd Larimer County Fair, held at The Ranch in Loveland, Colo., Aug. 3-7, 2012.
One of those 4-H members was Jennifer Lang, who exhibited the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion Swine, as well as the Medium weight division champion and winning the Reserve Grand Champion Senior Showmanship title.
“Showmanship is my favorite part of fair. You get to demonstrate how hard you have worked, and how you work with your animal. If the pig doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would, you can still do well. It’s a pride thing,” she said.
Lang has been raising hogs for the fair for 10 years, and travels around several states to pick out the pigs that she thinks have what it takes to be a champion. This year, her hogs came from Colorado, Nebraska and Minnesota. She has had a champion or reserve grand champion at the fair the past seven years, and is a member of the LaPorte Cowpunchers 4-H Club.
“From the things that I learned in livestock judging, I thought they looked good. It’s pretty hard to find a default in the one that won,” said Lang.
Her grand champion hog, which she named Strider, weighed in at 278 pounds, and was sold during the Junior Livestock Sale for $2,250. The reserve grand champion, named Monster, weighed 261 pounds and sold for $1,900.
“It was really good to win because I’ve worked really hard at it, and I spend 20 hours a week working on them and perfecting them. It felt great to have my family and friends around to help me and support me. They really help me out with my project all year. It’s really rewarding,” she said.
She added, “I couldn’t do any of this without the volunteers who help put on the program. I thank them for putting on a great fair. A lot of people helped with that.”
Lang has been livestock judging for the past five years, and that has helped her to understand what to look for when she chooses her hogs. She also competes in quiz bowl, which has helped her gain a lot of knowledge about her projects.
“I really like in the beginning of the year traveling to go and pick them out. I really like caring for animals, because it’s my passion to get to care for a living, breathing animal. It inspired me to go into the medical field and work with people and care for them,” she said.
Lang plans to attend Illinois Wesleyan University, where she will complete her undergraduate program and hopes to one day become an anesthesiologist. “With these animals, you are monitoring them and constantly trying to make them better and perfect them, so I am really detailed oriented. This will really help me with this career,” she said.
This was her last Larimer County Fair, and Lang has enjoyed her entire 4-H experience. “It’s been a positive experience. It’s really great. I’ve learned a lot of valuable life skills that I will use the rest of my life, such as work ethic, organization and record keeping. I’ve definitely enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone who is even thinking about getting involved. The volunteers are always great and something I will do in the future,” she said.
She continued, “I’d love to see the continued support from everyone. The 4-H members work really hard, and are the future of our community. I thought the sale was better this year, and there has been a lot of improvements since I began. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Lang will have just one more livestock show to compete at, and that is AK-SAR-BEN in Nebraska. She will not compete at the state fair or at National Western Stock Show this year, as she has in the past.
Another 4-H member who found success at the Larimer County Fair was Stratton Wotowey from Fort Collins, Colo., and a member of the Harmony Hustlers 4-H Club.
Wotowey exhibited the Grand Champion Market Sheep. “Winning was really, really exciting. It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” he said.
His grand champion was also the grand champion Hampshire, and he showed another first place crossbred, first place Hampshire, and the grand champion breeding ewe. In showmanship, he brought home top honors as the grand champion intermediate showman.
This was his fifth year showing lambs, and he had never had an overall champion at the Larimer County Fair before. “I like trying to outshow other people, and the challenge of getting a lamb shown. I like being able to have a profitable project, and learn from it as well,” he said.
Wotowey credits his projects for teaching him valuable life lessons. “You don’t always win. Life takes a lot of hard work, sweat and determination to pull things off,” he stated.
He added, “I like 4-H because of the different abilities you have to find something that you like to do, and create a passion out of it and take it higher and higher, level wise, to succeed.”
He will also be competing at state fair, where he will take three lambs, and his brother will take two. At only 12-years-old, Wotowey has many more years that he can compete.
“I am really proud of how consistently he works on his project. He really pays attention to what is going on, both in the ring and in the learning process. He likes the challenges, and he rises to the occasion each time. He’s come a long way since he first started when he was eight. And he seems to like it,” said Tracie Douglas-Wotowey, Stratton’s mother.
She continued, “He is learning to livestock judge now, and that brought another component in for him. He can see what the judges see, and not just what he sees. We are really proud of him and how well he has done. He keeps doing great. He is a great kid.”
Other champions included Caisey Ellis who exhibited the grand champion beef, which weighed 1,285 pounds and sold for $6,100. The champion market goat was exhibited by Brakelle Dobbs, and her 98 pound goat brought $1,600.
The grand and reserve grand champion rabbits were exhibited by Syndey Bates, and her champion pen sold for $1,600. The champion turkey also sold for $1,600, and was exhibited by Christine Hiatt.
The champion chickens, owned by Sydney Spanjer, sold for $1,100, while the champion ducks, exhibited by Kyle Conlon, brought $1,200. The champion goose was exhibited by Shelby Veca. The sale was held on August 8 this year.
Outside of the livestock shows, attendees at the fair could enjoy many other events including the carnival, live music, Splash Dogs, the Gnarly Barley Brew Fest and the PRCA Rodeo. ❖
“Winning was really, really exciting. It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”