MOUNT VERNON — Family tradition runs strong at the Knox County Fair Market Beef Show, where siblings often compete against each other, and parents watch as their children take home trophies they themselves once worked to win.
As the Levering family from Fredericktown worked outside the Multipurpose Building for the Market Beef Show, primping and combing, cleaning and trimming the steers 18-year-old Jordon would show during the evening, everyone pitched in.
“It takes the whole family to get two steers ready for the show,” Teresa Levering said as her older son, J.B., and daughter, Whitney, helped Jordon make sure the steers looked their show best.
2009 Beef Queen Faith McConnell, who lives in the Brandon area, was showing a steer, along with her sister, Trisha, and brother, Nick.
“This is my ninth year,” said Faith.
Because they live on a cattle farm, the McConnells said showing the animals at the fair is something their family works hard doing each year.
“They are out running every morning, cleaning them up every day, all summer long,” said their mother, Jean. “It’s a lot of hard work for young kids, and they all do a great job.”
Many first-time exhibitors made an impressive showing during the evening. Luke McKee, who at 9 is showing for the first time at this year’s fair, said he had been preparing his steer for the show since the cow was a young calf on his family’s farm in Gambier.
Working with such large animals can be a challenge for the contestants, no matter how old they are, due to the sheer size of the animals.
“It’s a challenging project,” said beef superintendent Mark Bennett. “It’s skill on their part to be able to manage them.”
Since the large cows could easily overpower the young people, the exhibitors work with their project for months, practicing leading them around the ring.
McKee joked that his steer, Red, at 1,365 pounds was easily much larger than his weight of 65 pounds.
“Red weighs 1,300 more pounds than me,” he said with a smile.
As the winners of each class were chosen throughout the evening, the excitement among the spectators in the building grew. The large crowd spilled out of the hot exhibit hall into the barn beyond.
At the end of the night, the crowd was on its feet, pressed toward the gate around the show ring to watch the naming of this year’s champion.
“I know there’s a lot of competition out here,” said judge Aaron Gray. “But at the end of the day, only two people are going to leave here happy.”
Cameron Leonard was the happiest in the bunch, when his steer Dozer was named Grand Champion. The Utica native has been showing Dozer in Ohio Best shows all winter, and has come to love competition, according to his mother Kim Anderson.
Jordon Levering proudly led his steer Vern, the Reserve Champion, out of the ring and accepted congratulations from his family.
The Beef Feeder Show, where younger calves not ready for market were shown by their exhibitors, preceded the Market Beef Show.
Two of the McConnell family members swept the honors in that show. Faith showed the Grand Champion, Nick the Reserve Champion.
A complete list of Junior Fair winners will appear in the results tab in the Aug. 5 edition of the News.