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Mississippi Valley Fair cattle show gets kids excited about agriculture

Organizers say the event teaches responsibility, trustworthiness and being prepared when things don't always go right.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Kids showed off their cattle at Mississippi Valley Fair's market beef show on Friday, Aug. 5.

Several breeds were on display, with 4-H and Future Farmers of America youth competing. It was just one of many animal contests at the fair, which organizers said are meant to get kids excited about agriculture.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about the 2022 Mississippi Valley Fair

"Agriculture, it really has a great impact on kids," Cattle Show Judge Mitch Holcomb said. "This gives the opportunity for these kids to learn about responsibility, trustworthiness and working on something that might not always go the right way, you know?"

It's hard work for the contestants, as they have to spend a whole year raising their cattle, but many show strong enthusiasm for the task.

"Honestly, I just really like cattle in general," said Contestant Jimmy Hepler, an 18-year-old from Davenport. "I really like steers, I like working with them. They have their own personalities. They're basically like big pets after you start taking care of them."

The difficult work prepares them for challenges in the industry.

"The southwest and western portion of this country are in a pretty severe drought," Holcomb said. "Producers up here are gonna have to fight a lot harder for hay because the guys down south are gonna need it a ton once we get to winter here."

These problems and more all factor into the cost, Holcomb said. 

"With feed prices going up, as I think we enter into fall and winter, you're gonna see prices come back for the beef industry as a whole," he said.

Even the young contestants had to face some of those challenges.

"I remember last year it was blazing hot! So I had to get up at five in the morning to halter them, to water them and feed them," Hepler said.

The participants, however, remain determined thanks to strong community support.

"It's really good to see communities come out and support those local 4H and FFA kids," Holcomb said, "because it gives them the opportunity to do the same thing next year."

Holcomb also explained how the kids are supported financially. 

Most contestants sell their show cattle at a sale auction where a buyer pays closer to market value to process the cattle for product. 

However, community members often add extra money at a separate premium auction. They do not receive the product but give additional money to the contestant as a show of supporting youth.

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