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Pratt County 4-Hers show livestock during fair week

Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune
Market Beef Grand Champion Brock Montgomery holds his champion crossbred at the photo wall after the Grand Champion drive last week at the 2020 Pratt County Fair.

The number of entries were definitely down in the livestock events at the Pratt County Fair this year. But that didn’t stop the Pratt County 4-H’ers from testing their skills and showing off their hard work as they participated in horse, bucket calf and the beef show in the July 2020 events last week. 

There were fewer entries in the horse show as well, but that didn’t stop the 4-H’ers from tackling the performance and timed events. Preparing for the horse events was an enormous challenge. Normally, the riders would practice together every Friday at the horse arena. But with COVID-19, Kansas State University Extension mandated that no face-to-face training could take place before July 4, said Pratt County Extension Agent Victoria Simonsen.

This didn’t give the riders many practices that are important to let riders and horses get to know each other. Practices were limited and some were able to practice at home to get ready for the competition. 

Daniel Spitzer, who won the senior division timed events, said it was hard not having as much practice as he wanted. With just three practices before the fair competition, he didn’t have his horse where he wanted him to be. But he and the other riders still had a good time. 

“I didn’t perform as well as I wanted. I didn’t get enough practice,” Spitzer said. 

Safety is always a top priority at the fair. At the concessions stand for horse events, no refills were given, the servers wore masks and condiments were all kept inside to reduce contact. 

Getting a fair together was difficult this year because of uncertainty on what would be allowed, Simonsen said. 

Having a fair, evan a modified one, was important because Extension and the Fair Board wanted to give the 4-H’ers the opportunity to show off their hard work. 

Bucket calf entries were down but the seven 4-H and five open entries had a good time showing off their animals and talking to the judge, Marty Gleason, Extension Agriculture Agent from Edwards County who said the young people knew a lot about their animal and were very involved with them. Levi Smith was 4-H Grand Champion and Alexis Eubank was 4-H Reserve Grand Champion in bucket calves. 

Bucket Calf Co-Chairman and Superintendent Dwane DeWeese, who helped start the bucket calf program back in 1980, is retiring and gave a farewell speech. 

Numbers were very low in the beef show with just two pages of entries where there have been seven or eight in the past. There were only five classes in market beef. 

Judge Jeff Stump, a cattle and sheep man from Stafford County, said there was good development in the animals and the top end market and breeding animals showed high quality. He was impressed with the number and enthusiasm of the juniors in showmanship. They will help build the program in years to come, Stump said. 

Market Beef Grand Champion Brock Montgomery, who finished his 4-H career, said he learned a lot of life lessons in the beef program and his older brother Ty was a positive influence. He learned to handle responsibility and that he had to grow as an individual.  

The wrap up of the fair was the livestock auction. The number of animals was down about 25 percent but the bidders were out in full force. The Corona Cartel, a group of bidders, gave top dollar for the grand champions in beef, swine, sheep and goats plus other animals. Many add ons were made after the bidding on each animal was finished to give each 4-H’er the best return on their investment. 

Ron Piester, Chair of livestock sale board, said the sale turned out better than he expected. With so much hard work, effort, time and expense put in on the animals, the board assured the 4-H’ers there would be a place to go with their animals at the end of their projects. 

As for the sale itself, Piester said it would be a couple of weeks before the final numbers were in.