Dairy Youth Extravaganza in Greeley motivates teen after life-changing accident | TheFencePost.com

Dairy Youth Extravaganza in Greeley motivates teen after life-changing accident

Tommy Simmons

Justin Weber thought he was lucky to be at the Colorado Dairy Youth Extravaganza June 6 at Island Grove Regional Park. In fact, he considers himself lucky to be alive at all.

That's because almost three months ago, on March 13, the 17-year-old Frederick native was riding his motorcycle when he hit a patch of soft dirt at 65 mph. The crash put Weber in a coma for three weeks. Doctors had to install 24 screws and two metal plates into his left wrist. He was released from the hospital two weeks ago.

During his time in the hospital, 4-H events helped to provide an incentive to recover faster.

"It gave me something to look forward to," Weber said. "I wanted to get back into it because before that I was just laying there."

Weber competed in the Extravaganza's showmanship contest in the senior division, as this is his fourth year in the event. His cow, Alli, also was important in his recovery.

"She was born on my birthday, Jan. 8," he said. "And eight is my lucky number. She's my favorite calf."

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As Alli was older than two months at the time of Weber's accident, the two had already become close before he went to the hospital. She was the first cow he walked after arriving home.

"At first I was kind of nervous," he said. "But Alli is smaller, and she's really calm, too. We just have such a good bond."

Weber has been involved in 4-H since he was 8 and has attended the Dairy Youth Extravaganza for four years. Monday's event was his second livestock event since the accident.

"I really love how nice everybody (who) works here is," he said. "They're really good to you."

Sarah Hirsch, whose family owns a farm in Eaton, said she appreciates the emphasis on community, as well.

"My favorite part is probably getting to know everyone," she said. "Everyone knows each other here."

Hirsch is one of five siblings, all of whom compete in the showmanship event.

"It gets a little chaotic sometimes, trying to help each other pick out animals to show," she said. "And yes, it does get competitive. My brother and I are showing in the same class and it gets competitive. But still, if one of us isn't on top, we try to root for the other one, too."

Hirsch, a senior at CSU majoring in animal studies and agriculture business, said she has seen the event grow over the 11 years she's been attending.

"This is the biggest show we've had," she said. "There were 211 pre-entered head of livestock."

For Keith Maxey, the director of Weld County Extension, which sponsors the event in conjunction with the Colorado Holstein Association, this steady growth is the result of simply sticking to an effective format.

"I've got a very good planning committee," he said. "The Weld County 4-H Dairy Council does a lot of the planning and footwork here. I couldn't do this by myself. We had success in past years and we stuck to that — we had a successful formula that we followed."

Maxey said the first Extravaganza, which took place in 2002, featured around 30 contestants with fewer than 80 head of livestock. Now, 15 years later, the event hosted over 90 contestants and more than 200 head of livestock, including six contestants from Arizona and one from Utah.

"Weld County is 11th in the nation in milk production, and we're growing," Maxey said. "This event highlights the prestige of the dairy industry in our area."

Milk production may not jump immediately to mind when Weld is brought up in conversation — the name is oftentimes more closely associated with the beef industry — but both Weber and Hirsh said they are considering careers in the field. For them, it is about much more than a showmanship competition or an annual chance to show off their animals.

It's a way of life.❖

Dairy Youth Extravaganza showmanship results

First year members

Junior division

First place — Wyatt Frasco

Second place — Jade Lungwitz

Senior division

First place — Rebecca Wendland

Second place — Robyn Delapp

Second-third year members

Junior division

First place — Seamus Kelsey

Second place — Jaxson Lungwitz

Senior division

First place — Wyatt Hammack

Second place — T.J. Wendland

Four or more year members

Junior division

First place — Hadley Ross

Second place — Taryn Goss

Intermediate 1

First place — Jacey Ross

Second place — Kyndall Tucker

Intermediate 2

First place — Kendall McCarron

Second place — Brianna McBride

Senior division

First place — Ashlea Churchwell

Second place — Morgan Cobb

Overall grand champion — Ashlea Churchwell

Overall reserve grand champion — Seamus Kelsey