The Davison County Fairgrounds were a hive of activity Saturday as the Davison County Winter Beef Show kicked off the new year with youth from around the region displaying their prize animals.
“The Winter Beef Show is put together by a committee of different people from around the area who have a passion for bringing an ag project to Mitchell,” said Caroline Hansen, the 4-H youth adviser for Davison County and a member of the organizing committee for the Davison County Winter Beef Show. “So we all work together to put on this show for kids.”
The event features competition in a number of different categories for youth from around the region, and the show once again attracted a large number of participants. Hansen said 150 head of cattle and 95 youth were signed up for this year’s show, more than had taken part in the event last year.
She said the increased participation this year may have something to do with the fact that COVID-19 shuttered many similar events in 2020, and people were looking for a chance to get back into the ring and take part in a traditional event.
Hansen said participants from states including South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska took part in the show.
“We’re pretty happy with (the turnout). I think people are wanting something to do. Things got shut down so quickly (last year). A lot of these kids had shows that they planned to go to last summer that were canceled or postponed, so a lot of them geared up for this,” Hansen said. “This is one of those shows they can bring their calves to to get them used to being out and about before they go to some of those bigger shows.”
The first event of the day was the Davison County Youth Show, which is only open to participants from Davison County. The day continued with Junior Showmanship, Senior Showmanship, Beginner Showmanship as well as categories for breeding heifers and market animals.
Hansen said the feedback she had heard from participants Saturday was generally positive. Though temperatures hovered around the freezing point, Hansen said the conditions at the show this year were far better than January of 2020, which saw nearly subzero temperatures throughout the area, with ice and snow becoming an issue.
“Hopefully they’re enjoying the weather. We kind of have an advantage this year in that we don’t have a lot of ice, so the parking lot isn’t slippery for the calves coming in,” Hansen said.
A crowd of several dozen audience members watched from a set of bleachers set up inside the facility as youth, their parents and animals milled about waiting their turn in the ring as the competition continued throughout the day.
The show was the first significant ag event at the fairgrounds in 2021. Many other ag-related events and programs were halted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak that disrupted nearly all aspects of life when it arrived in the early part of the year.
While the Davison County Winter Beef Show is not technically a 4-H event, many participants were itching to return to a semblance of normalcy after the pandemic caused changes in plans for many youth in ag. That made the show Saturday significant for the opportunity it provided youth who were short-changed on events last year.
“Our 4-H program was completely shut down until July,” Hansen said. “It’s been a little slow rolling with it and getting people back and excited about 4-H when there was such a chunk of time when there wasn’t much happening.”
4-H events are expected to resume with guidance on safety provided by South Dakota State University, Hansen said. Most such events are closed to the public at this time, but that could change as the new year progresses. Hansen said a few events have been planned, such as a judging school, that will hopefully get youth and the public back enjoying events like the Davison County Winter Beef Show.
“We’re hoping to have some events here that are a little more open to the public once SDSU allows that. Right now most of our (4-H) events are all closed (to the public),” Hansen said.
Hansen said events like the Davison County Beef Show help promote agriculture among youth, and encouraged others who may have an interest in the field to take a look at the ag-related programs offered in the area.
“If you have an interest, we can find an area where it fits — everything from livestock to robotics and computer programming and music composition and everything in between,” Hansen said. “If you have an interest in something particular, I bet we can find a place for you.”