Cattle show numbers doubled in 2017 at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.
Shannon Carvey, cattle show committee co-chair, says about 100 head entered the ring from March 27 to April 1, up from the 50-60 head and 20-30 entrants the show normally claims.
“We are about twice our numbers that we have been for the last few years, so that’s really fantastic and much in part to a group of kids from Saskatchewan who have come to our show this year, which is really nice for the first time,” she said. “That’s really increased our numbers and we do have a few local people who showed here when they were kids and now they’ve brought their kids back to the fair for the first time this year, so that’s really exciting too.”
The cattle show committee was required to add splits and lengthen competition to deal with the influx. The Ag Action stage, largely devoted to cattle showing in the latter half of the fair, is also shared with other exhibitors and shows, further challenging time requirements.
The Don Mitchell Memorial Showmanship competition, open to youth under 21 years of age, saw 17 entries in both junior and intermediate classes and 16 in the senior age bracket.
Justin Carvey of Alexander was named grand champion after winning the senior showmanship class, followed by Orianna Hyndman of Hamiota.
Twenty-eight entrants made up the prospect steer competition while the market steer show became a five-way fight for the ribbon.
Madison Petracek of Whitewood, Sask., showed the top prospect steer with Rein Man, weighing in at 1,058 pounds, while Hayden Bigney of Carnduff, Sask., was reserve champion with Kong (955 pounds). In market steers, Tim Davey and M&M of Westbourne, Man., took grand champion, followed by Kyle Williamson and Bones of Brandon in reserve.
Calf-feeding competitions, Carcass Calcutta Awards and live sale, and heifer shows also took place over the week.
“The quality of cattle and kids is just absolutely amazing,” Carvey said. “You look at the animals and there’s lots of depth in quality there, but it’s the kids who really matter to us as the organizers. We have a really, really good group of kids who come each year and the new kids who come too are great kids. They work really, really hard and this is a big deal for them and we just want to make it the best show and have them really enjoy themselves here.”
Carvey estimates that upwards of 98 per cent of participants are 4-H club members. The winter fair is the first of the spring round of cattle shows for many competitors.
“It exposes their steer to lots of activities and things,” Carvey said. “You will get your calf quiet by bringing them to something like this because they see absolutely everything.”
Bailey McCormack of Grenfell, Sask., was one of the out-of-province names to earn honours in the ring.
McCormack showed both a steer and heifer, paternal siblings, taking reserve champion in the intermediate showmanship category of the Don Mitchell Memorial with her heifer. The heifer had previously been shown at Regina’s Agribition, although it was McCormack’s first time in the ring with her steer.
Also one of the participants to claim a 4-H background, McCormack has shown cattle since the age of six.
“It’s something that my parents have done, so I tried it and I’ve just always really enjoyed it and I see lots of kids, they really benefit from it because they have a better work ethic than some other kids that you might meet because they have a lot of chores and stuff that they have to do and they have the responsibility of taking care of their animals,” she said.
The Falconer family of Sweet Grass Ranch, near Hartney, Man., also made up four competitors on the list, ranging from 10 to 16 years old and showing three steers and two heifers collectively.
All but one of the children showing this year also showed at last year’s winter fair, their father, Glen Falconer, said.
“All their friends come and it’s a pretty good outing and it’s a little advertising for the farm. It’s kind of our winter holiday,” he said.
His two eldest daughters, aged 14 and 16, have been showing approximately since the age of four.
The Falconer family accounted for two third-place finishes in the Don Mitchell Memorial. Katie Falconer walked out of the ring with a ribbon in the intermediate, while Grace Falconer took third in the senior class.
The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair ran March 27 to April 1, 2017.