GREAT FALLS - As a part of the 2022 Montana State Fair, attendees flocked their way to the Livestock Pavilion at the Montana ExpoPark to watch various livestock show off and compete.
"At the state fair here, there's kids who bring their animals here, it's kind of like the Super Bowl for these kids during the summer. We get them all ready, do that morning routine and get them up, get them ready, bring them to the show ring and hope they do well," participant Tyson Gravenhof said.
The competition started off with pigs, followed by goats, cows, and other livestock as well. The idea behind the competition is for judges to evaluate the health and well-being of the livestock.
"We get up here pretty early." Tyson said. "We get them inside from tie-outs and start washing and drying them, and tie them under fans get them finished drying, feed and water them. Let them bend down for a couple of hours and up before the show we start getting them ready.
For participant Tanner Vanek, who shows cattle, the morning routine is dependent on several factors.
"Usually, you want to wake up early, before the show, so then your cattle can get a good rest in. You get them all washed or rinsed. Today, we just rinsed ours because we washed ours yesterday. What we do is comb them down, spray a product in them, and then comb them forward and then we get to blowing them," Tanner said. "And once you're done blowing, you just lay them down, feed them hay, and watch them calm down."
As for the show itself, Judge Justin Doubet said performances went well overall, and that it reflects well on the way Montanans raise their livestock.
"The quality is really high," Justin said. "I think among state fairs, that Montana is pretty good. I would say as good of livestock there is, especially on the top end. The kids here do a nice job and I just think in the state of Montana as a whole, a lot of agricultural folks, they think this is important as I do as well, so I think quality is pretty high."
While the animals themselves were the focus of the show, Doubet says the whole show expands to beyond more than just competing.
"The whole purpose is basically to just make livestock better as a whole. Whether you're eating steak or pork, or whatever it may be, you don't want low-quality livestock in that. I would say as much as anything though, the purpose for showing for us folks is to build a mentality, especially that's lost in this world today, to be hardworking. To go out of your way and try to better yourself and understand that life is a competition and that makes competitive people," Doubet said,
"Something that I think is unique about showing stuff is at the end of the day, there is one winner. I don't think it's much different, as I'm applying for jobs and doing that, there is someone that gets the job and someone that doesn't. So, I do think that instills in your mind, just not handouts anywhere. Life isn't fair and you do learn that in the show ring, and I do think that's important. It makes kids willing to work hard," Doubet concluded