Heifers and steers escorted by Cherokee County youth from various 4-H and FFA programs paraded around Pavilion Two at the Cherokee County Junior Livestock Show Saturday.
The cattle were judged on their muscle, balance, skeletal size, growth, volume, and trimness. In the end, only two prizes were awarded for best overall heifer and best overall steer, and both went home to Kassie Kelley, from Lowrey 4-H, who brought five heads of cattle to the competition.
"For the Shorthorn Class 1, Kassie Kelley brought a nice heifer that is balanced well, with great length, thick legs, and with flex," said judge Joe Devine.
Her steer, Donald, is 15 months old, and she planned to sell him off at the auction on Monday night. Many students receive donations from various community members and companies throughout the county to help them with their expenses, such as purchasing feed. They, in turn, sell their cattle, which helps them to raise money for college or starting their own business after they graduate.
"I want to go to college and study agriculture," said Kassie.
A seventh grader, she is well on her way to achieving her goals. Kassie hopes to study at Oklahoma State University or Northeastern State University.
Kyle Welch is a senior at Hulbert and has been showing cattle for nine years. This year he showed off Dolly, who competed in Class 2 of Commercial Heifers.
His cow is still young, so he plans to hold onto her a little longer until she is ready to be sold.
Among other things, he explained that the judges are looking for flank and good bone structure.
Loving family and friends cheered for the many students who worked hard for this competition. Students average two hours of handling their cattle every day after school to prepare for competition. For them, the work is worth it because it is something that they enjoy.
COVID-19 safety procedures were in full force. On a couple of occasions, the emcee stopped the competition to ensure that everyone in the arena was wearing a mask.
The number of entries was lower than in past years, partly because of the pandemic, and also because of the recent snowstorm. However, that did not affect the quality of the competition.
After several rounds, Judge Devine told everyone, "Can I get a round of applause for all these competitors? I had a hard time on this one. . ."
For Shorthorn Class 1, Kassie Kelley took first place. For Simmental Class 1, Kadance Haney from Tahlequah FFA took first and second place; for All Other Breeds, Erica Ward won with her yellow Charolais; for Commercial Class 1, Augustus McCrary took first place, followed by Jasmine Gould, Trae Kupsick, and Tanner Kupsick. For Commercial Class 2, Anna Robertson won, followed by Augustus McCrary and Kyle Welch.
Kadance Haney won first place for Angus Class 1, and Colt Ward took second place. For Chianina Class 1, Erica took first place, followed by Kassie Kelley. For Hereford First Class, first prize went to Kylie Forrest of Tenkiller 4-H. Adriana Marquez won first prize for Maine-Anjou Class 1, while Kassie Kelley took first place for Class 2.
Kassie Kelley took Grand Champion, and Reserve Champion went to Erica Ward. They were followed by Kelley, Kadance Haney, Anna Robertson, Augustus McCrary, Colt Ward, Adriana Marquez, Kyle Welch, Kylie Forrest, Jasmine Gould, Trae Kupsick, and Tanner Kupsick.
For Class 1 Steers, Craylyn King from Tahlequah FFA took the first prize, and second went to Adriana Marquez from Sequoyah 4-H. For Class 2 Steers, Kelley took first place and third place, while King took second.
Kelley took Grand Champion, and Reserve Champion went to King.