MANATEE -- A crowd of nearly 800 saw Zachary Quattlebaum, of Myakka City, and his steer, Apollo, capture Grand Champion at the Manatee County Fair Steer Show on Thursday.
Zachary, 16, a member of Awesome Adventures 4-H Club, took the crown with a 1,339-pounder with a shiny black coat and rippling muscles.
“He was a thick calf that had everything put together,” said Hugh Taylor, of the Manatee County Fair Association. “The muscle and fat he had and his structure was all there. Besides all that, he looked good.”
Alyssa Johnson, of Myakka All-Stock, took Reserve Champion with her calf, which weighed in at 1,246 pounds.
The Grand Champion finalists were Sawyer Dobbs, of Nolan Middle FFA; Jordan Pascuzzi, of Lakewood Ranch FFA; Shelbie Davis, of Manatee County Junior Cattlemen; Libby Spence, of Lakewood Ranch FFA; Austin Cavey, of Myakka All-Stock; Morgan Hill, of Braden River High FFA; Tyler Harper, of Home Grown Heritage 4-H; Dylan Humphrey, of Palmetto High FFA; Johnson; and Quattlebaum.
The first-place county calf, an award that honors the best Manatee County born and raised steers, was shown by Austin Cavey, of Myakka All-Stock.
Second place went to Casey Wingate, of Manatee County Junior Cattlemen; and third place went to Tyler Harper, of Homegrown Heritage 4-H. Zachary, who hopes to become a large animal veterinarian, said he was relieved when he got the winning handshake.
“It could have gone to anyone of the people standing around me,” Zachary said.
One of the inspirational sights of the final draw was seeing 8-year-old Shelbie Davis, who is 65 pounds, handle her 1,091-pound steer.
“It’s her first year and she won first in her class,” said her proud father, Luke Davis.
Shelbie is the granddaughter of Jim Parks, of the Manatee County Fair Association.
For the steer show, 67 calves started and 59 made it to the competition. Although the crowd roots for the youngsters in the show ring, there are many others whose animals fall short of weight or became sick or injured and were not able to compete.
This year, for example, 44 pigs did not make it to the fair.
One of those disappointed competitors was Maria Danae Mathews, of Parrish, whose steer developed a weakness in its back legs, making it hard for him to put weight on them.
When the fair rolled around, Maria’s steer looked like a sway back horse, she said.
“He couldn’t stand for long without bowing his front legs,” she said.
“What it taught me is that in life you can’t take anything for granted,” Maria said. “But, also, by leaving my calf at home, I got to help my friend, Haley Pressley, with her steer, which I never would have had the time to do.”
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.