By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
The Clark County Junior Livestock Association (CCJLA) and young 4-H and FFA members from all over Southern Nevada kicked-off the official start to the 2018 Clark County Fair livestock season on Saturday with an annual steer weigh-in. Youth ages nine to nineteen who want to show a steer or heifer at this year’s fair brought their prospective animals to the MVHS Ag Farm to register them, have them eartagged, and get an official starting weight on what they hope will be the next grand champion.
The day was a lot of fun; both for those running the scales and those bringing in animals.
“I love this time of year with these kids bringing in their animals for the first time, ready to start off the season,” said CCJLA President Corey Houston. “They always are excited and happy and their enthusiasm is infectious.”
Many steers that crossed the scales were in the beginning stages of halter breaking and gentling, making it a raucous day for those running the scales.
“We had some pretty gentle steers, but we had a bunch of wild ones today as well,” Houston said. “It certainly kept things exciting.”
“I’m always impressed at the difference we see in the animals between now and fair,” Houston added. “These steers start out wild, but the kids put in hours of training and a lot of work on their projects. I’m amazed at the difference we see come fair time.”
Abby and Shayla Mathews from Panaca weighed in the first steers of the morning. “I’ve been showing livestock since I was nine years old,” said Shayla. “I really love it and I have had good success in the past. This is my last year and although I’m a little sad about that, I’ve decided I want to go out with a bang.”
The weigh-in was scheduled to run from 8-11 am. But due to the high number of steers that showed up, officials didn’t finish until after 12:30 pm.
“Last year we had thirty-two steers, which was up from previous years already,” said Steer Steward Tanya Barlow. “But this year we weighed in fifty-five animals with only one of those being an alternate. Our numbers are way up this year.”
One reason numbers were so high was that there were a lot of new competitors. “We are used to getting the same kids and the same families back each year,” Houston said “But this year there were a lot of new faces as well and a lot of kids trying steers out for the first time. It is an exciting thing and we’re looking forward to a great show.”
In addition, many kids weighed in heifers for the show. Heifers have been allowed in the show for many years, but most kids have traditionally chosen to show steers because they grow faster and are able to put on more weight in the allotted time. But this year local breeders especially had more heifers than steers for sale and many kids decided to take advantage of that opportunity.
Maylee Eide was there with her grandfather, Glen Hardy. Maylee has shown lambs and goats for many years at the fair. But she decided to show a steer this time.
“I’ve never done a steer before so I’m very excited,” Eide said. “This will be my last year in 4-H so it’s a great time to try something new. It makes it even better that I get to show one of my grandpa’s heifers that we raised from a calf.”
Of course, along with the senior showmen on their way out, there is always the next generation coming up. Young Mark Nelson, 9, brought his very first steer “Big Bill” to the weigh-in. He said he named his steer after one of his favorite characters in the book series, Cowboy Sam. He is really excited to be old enough to have his own steer project this year.
“I’m really looking forward to showing a steer,” he said. “My mom did it and my sister did it and now I get to do it. I think it will be really fun.”
With fair coming up in four months, kids know they have hours of hard work in front of them. But in the end, they say it is worth it and that’s why they’re back for another year.
“With our steer numbers way up, it’s going to be a full barn this year,” Barlow said. “But it’s exciting to see so many kids wanting to be involved with livestock.”
Although steer weigh-in has passed, it is not too late to show an animal at the Clark County Fair. Lambs, goats, and pigs will weigh-in at the fairgrounds on January 20, 2018, from 8am to 11am. That weigh-in will be followed by a potluck family picnic and a pre-show.
For more information, or if you are interested in showing, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension at 702-397-2604.