Hair dryers were buzzing, spray-on product was applied in all the right places for the desired appearance, and brushing was constant.
A select group of special young ladies were being fussed over to get ready for their big date Monday — and some of Lennox and Addington’s finest young farmers were in charge of the preparations prior to the big dance.
The Napanee Fair provided the backdrop for the local 4-H beef and dairy clubs to hold a joint day of achievement, allowing young show people time to shine in the ring with their calves.
Terry Creighton, a parent volunteer with the dairy club said it was a day most of the exhibitors had marked on their calendars.
“It’s a very big deal for the kids, they’re all very excited to be here,” he said. “They’re getting hot and tired, but they’re all up and at it, doing a great job.”
Creighton said the programs show children how to care for a calf, including how to feed and look after it not only during the show, but also for weeks and months ahead of time. They also learn some animal husbandry and a bit of leadership in the process.
Once in the ring, the 4-H members would be looking to impress dairy judge Melanie Hunter, of Mallorytown, Ont. or beef judge Brett Thaxter, of Woodville, Ont. depending on which calves they had a hand in raising and showing.
“They’re looking for how they control the animal, feet placement and how they set the calf up. You want the feet underneath so the top line is level and shows a lot of the animal’s strengths. You want its head up high with it walking long and walking straight on its legs. You don’t want it shaky or to criss-cross.
Madeline Fretts, a 4-H dairy club member and this year’s reserve champion for showmanship put it even more succinctly.
“You just want to be confident and show your calf off the best you can,” she said.
Monday’s grand champion showperson, the winner of the Murray Jackson Trophy, was Kayla Boot. She has been showing for 11 years and was the top showperson in both beef and cattle events.
Growing up on a dairy farm, she wanted to show their animals. She recalled she also thought beef cattle were cute and decided to talk her parents into adding some beef cows to their herd at Bayview Acres.
Boot said her secret to success at the fair is her preparation in advance..
“It’s just lots of practice at home — time and patience,” she said. “I show both beef and dairy, but it’s pretty much the same. You want to have your heifers trained and be a team. You glide smoothly together, you listen to your heifer and have your heifer listen to you.”
She said there’s a real sense of pride showing a cow that she’s had a hand in breeding and raising.
Fair time, she said, is exciting because its’ a chance to help encourage newer members to become involved in showing their own cattle.
While it may be a big competition, the Napanee Fair is just a starting point for Boot. She has plans to show her animals in Belleville, Peterborough, and Carp leading up to the Royal Agricultural Fair in Toronto. She’ll also take her beef calf to Agribition in Saskatchewan.
Boot said she hopes to one day take over the family Holstein dairy farm, which has 85 milking cows, and continue to work with Hereford beef cattle. She’s also interested in raising shorthorns.
Among the dairy showmanship finalists, Elizabeth Creighton was the top novice, Adrianna MacLean, top junior, Fretts, top intermediate, and Boot, top senior.
In beef showmanship, Kayla Cameron was the top novice, Hannah Hayes, the top junior, Sara Fitzgerald, the top intermediate, and Boot, the top senior.
In dairy confirmation, MacLean had the top junior heifer, Creighton the top intermediate heifer, and Boot the top senior heifer. Emilia Huff had the top summer yearling. Boot had the champion dairy calf, MacLean the reserve champion, and Brooklyn Youmans an honourable mention.
In beef confirmation, Shannon Gibson had the top junior heifer, Boot had the top junior yearling, and Mitch McCrady had the top senior yearling. McCrady had the grand champion beef calf, Boot, the reserve champion, and Sara Fitzgerald, an honourable mention.