Warming up: Before the Weld County Fair, 4-H kids prepare with smaller fairs
Athletes don’t play in championship games without playing in regulation games. The same goes for 4-H kids showing livestock.
The Lauridson sisters, Sydnee and Macey, and Molly Cooksey had their version of a regulation game June 12 at the Jim Jones Memorial Show at the South East Weld County Fairgrounds in Keenesburg, Colo. Cooksey brought out one of her steers and two heifers to show at the jackpot. Jackpots are the small, fair-type events where 4-H kids can get ready for the larger fairs by learning what they need to work on with their animals.
Cooksey said she tries to go to a few jackpot shows a year so her cattle get used to being shown and used to other animals.
“It helps me as a showman out there,” Cooksey said. “It still helps, to this day, with the chemistry and so they can get used to the stick.”
Cooksey said the jackpots are like a practice for her, allowing her to see what she and her cattle still need to improve on before the fair.
Macey and Sydnee also use the jackpots for practice. While showing their pigs, all participants talked to the judge, who gave individual pointers on how the participants and their pigs can improve.
The critiques can be small, like telling Sydnee to walk further distances before changing directions, or keeping the pig’s head up longer.
Sydnee said she concentrates on what she and her pig do while at the jackpots, but for Macey, the attention also falls on others showing.
“When you’re smaller, you look up to the older kids, the seniors, and watch what they do,” Macey said.
Now that she’s seasoned, Macey said she keeps the younger kids in mind, knowing they might be watching.
All throughout the show, people continually greet one another like old friends, and in a way they all are. Since there are so many fairs throughout the year, each jackpot is a spot where everyone seems to know everyone.
“So even if you don’t know their name, you recognize them,” Macey said.
Right then, as if there was a need to illustrate Macey’s point, a guy walked by, saying hello to Macey and another boy down the way.
That familiarity is something Bonnie Jones enjoys about the fair circuit, and why there wasn’t a question that the Jim Jones Memorial Show would happen again this year. The show started four years ago to help support her husband, for whom the show is named.
Jones’ husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the first three years of the show was to help raise funds. However, the one-year anniversary of his death is June 18, so this show was in his memory.
The day started with a church service, during which Jim was honored.
“After I gave my opening, I bet 30 kids came up and gave me a hug,” Jones said. “There were a lot of tears this time.”
Jones and her husband started Fit 2 Show eight years ago. The company’s headquarters is a trailer Jones takes to every fair, and one that many come to rely on.
Parents and kids will come — many of whom are on a first-name basis with Jones — and get whatever equipment they may need throughout the show.
Amy Cooksey, Molly’s mom, was one parent who came in about 20 minutes before Molly needed to show her heifers. They needed a show halter they didn’t have with them.
Since Amy was in a hurry, Jones simply took the tag so she’d remember Amy would go back later to pay.
“It’s a matter of trust,” Jones said. “I’m glad to be in a business where I can trust people.” ❖