Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
It takes a lot to get a kid and his steer or heifer to the Woodward District Livestock show, but people do it.
About 1,000 young exhibitors and about 1,500 of their best animals, in fact, found their way along highways in Northwest Oklahoma to Woodward County Fairgrounds for the District Show beginning last Friday.
Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sisters and brothers worked together hauling tackle trunks, rubber mats, clippers, combs, brushes and foo-foo spray into a building that was just an empty echo hours before.
Then the washing, shampooing, fluffing and trimming starts - all for a 10 minute debut, in a show ring where months of work finally comes to fruition . . . or it doesn't.
See, if you take all 1,000 Woodward District Livestock Show exhibitors and you multiply that times the three people, on average, that are there to support them in this labor intensive endeavor, you have 3,000 to 4,000 people who have come knowing they may not win. Yet, they still come.
So it's about something else, right.
"Yes," said Zane Brewer, the father of Guymon FFA student and exhibitor, 15-year-old Nick Brewer.
Wednesday, as Brewer and his father, Zane worked together preparing Nick's Chianina steer for his class, they had high hopes for their homegrown steer.
Already, the steer had placed second at the Texas County Livestock Show and they were pushing for the steer to hold his own against a wider variety of bloodlines.
Zane Brewer is a third generation owner of his 1,200 acre ranch near Hardesty. He and his family run about 50 Angus cross cows on their ranch - about one-third of what they usually run because of the drought, he said.
He and his son, Nick bred and raised the steer that Nick showed Wednesday. The task was merely an extension of what they do together on their ranch every day - a way of teaching his son what he knows about good cattle and also about giving his son a chance to do something he was never able to do as a child.
"I think it is about teaching them a work ethic, teaching them responsibility," Zane Brewer said. "I was a rancher's son so it was pretty much dawn to dusk for me as a kid, so I wanted him to have this chance."
But really, it even goes deeper than that for so many reasons.
Because Wednesday, as Nick Brewer's steer exited the arena, having placed fourth instead of first like he had hoped, no one was upset and no one had a temper tantrum.
Dad brought a bucket of water over for the steer, mom took lots of pictures and everyone pitched in to help clean up.
See, it's the being there - the trying, the father and son, shoulder to shoulder working toward something together that keeps people loading, unloading, shampooing, fluffing, combing, clipping and trimming.
It's the blue ribbon sometimes, yes.
But more often, it is the finished result of months of early mornings feeding, late afternoons training and lot of miles driven with people who love and support them, that lets everyone be a winner of the Woodward District Livestock Show.