Spotlight: 2018 State Fair Champions
By Robyn H. Smith
On August 24th, Salem welcomed thousands from across the state to opening day of State Fair! For 4-H and FFA youth, this time of year is revered. The honor of competing at state fair is something every junior division showman dreams about, and every intermediate and senior showman works hard to attain. To qualify for state competition, a showman must be an intermediate or senior 4-H member, or an FFA member (high school age), and the showman must have qualified with a blue-ribbon placing or better at their local county fair.
For many in Central or Eastern Oregon, it can be a tough decision to load up their market project or breeding herd and travel to Salem during summer, but the turn-out in the beef barn this year was filled with kids from across the state who were dedicated and determined to see their projects through to the very end.
Grand Champion FFA Beef Showman & Reserve Grand Champion FFA Breeding Beef Project:
Kendall Castrow from Redmond took home two top titles at state this year, which sets the bar high for her future because she’s only entering her freshman year and first year as an FFA member for the Redmond chapter.
Castrow says she’s been working with cattle since she could walk. Her family runs a small-operation with 14-head of cross-bred cattle. To prepare for competition, Castrow has worked with her project an average of three hours a day.
Kendall says it felt amazing to win Grand Champion showman. When asked about her goals, she said her goal was to beat a senior from her FFA chapter at the Deschutes County fair, and she did just that. At her county fair, she won champion beef showman, champion Hereford bull, and champion commercial cow; a title she followed up with at state, placing reserve in the confirmation ring.
Kendall has just begun her journey in FFA. Her accomplishments from this year are many, but she hopes to set her goals even higher next year. “I want to repeat everything I was able to do this year with my breeding herd, but I also have a goal to have Champion market steer,” Castro said.
The future: Kendall wants to eventually own a ranch, run her own cattle operation, and continue to progress as a Cattlewoman.
Grand Champion FFA Beef Breeding Project:
The beef breeding classes are broken down by specific breed then individual cows, bulls, calves, and heifers are judged on their confirmation for specific breed standards. Afterwards, the champion from each breed returns for a grand champion round and the judge selects the project that has the best confirmation for their specific breed.
Levi Crabtree took home this honor with his Simmental heifer. Levi is a graduated senior from the Tillamook FFA Chapter. Crabtree primarily works with swine, but said he noticed a lack of cattle projects in his FFA chapter, and he wanted to change that. He decided to work with a single heifer as a stepping stone to a breeding program. Last year, he worked with a Hereford, but was not impressed with her breeding, so he purchased a well-put-together Simmental heifer for his project this year. His knowledge of the confirmation and the breed-switch paid off for Crabtree when he took home the top honor.
The future: Levi plans to attend Tillamook Bay Community College in the fall for a major in Ag Science, focusing on swine nutrition and reproduction.
Champion Hereford Breeding Project:
The largest breed competition for FFA beef at state was the Hereford division. The division had four Hereford projects in total.
Cinch Anderson, a junior from the Grant Union FFA Chapter, took home a champion award for his heifer calf. Anderson contributes to his family’s cattle operation, High Desert Cattle Company, which he says runs cattle on nearly 75,000 acres in the John Day area. Right now, he is building his herd project and breeding for competition-worthy confirmation. Anderson has all the fundamentals and heart of a traditional Oregon Cattleman, and it’ll be great to see how he continues to progress his family’s operation.
The future: Cinch recently graduated from an auctioneer training school and has been traveling with a buddy to local auctions to sell cattle. Cinch would like to continue his skills as an auctioneer while continuing to help with the family operation.
Intermediate 4-H Grand Champion Showman
Showman are judged in a ring by their ability to present their cattle in the best way possible. The cattle are not being judged; all eyes are on the person presenting them. Taming and handling a steer or heifer is an every-day-after-school type of task. The amount of work and effort you put into your project can be seen clearly in a showmanship ring.
It was obvious that Hailey Bare from Culver, Oregon had put a lot of time, effort, and thought into her beef project. Hailey is 13 years old and has been working with cattle for the past four years on her family farm, Opal Springs Farms. She was ecstatic to receive Grand Champion showman at state this year because she has worked very hard to build and improve her project, she said. Bare showed a market steer and two breeding heifers at the Jefferson County fair and received the award of champion heifer and showman. Next year, she has goals of returning to state fair with her project and getting a heifer and a market steer from her breeding project.
The future: Even though Hailey has several years before graduation, she already has plans to go to Oklahoma State University and compete on the Livestock Judging team.
Senior 4-H Grand Champion Showman
Kylee Rusher from Wilsonville took home the honor of Senior Grand Showman this year. Kylee has been involved with showing a beef project for over seven years and works on her family ranch, Rushers 4R Ranch to develop their Angus cattle operation.
Rusher took home supreme female champion at her local fair this year, along with the title of champion showman. Kylee intends to continue a successful breeding program and wants to run her own cattle operation one day.
The future: Kylee plans to go to Montana State University and compete on the cattle show team.
After meeting these young people, it’s clear that the next generation is focused on continuing the growth of the cattle industry in Oregon. 4-H and FFA competitions allow youth who don’t come from ranches or cattle backgrounds to explore new projects and interests such as beef production. If you have the chance to meet these showman, who hail from across the state, congratulate them on their accomplishments and watch for them in the future of Oregon Cattlemen.