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Youth put on show at Manatee County Fair steer contest

PALMETTO -- For Lacy Kersey, 18, her first time showing a steer at the 2012 Manatee County Fair may have been a learning experience, but it was a fun one.

“I wish I would have done it sooner,” said the Lakewood Ranch senior who was showing her steer, Bradley, a 16-month old Hereford-Maine cross. “I’m anxious to see how he does.”

Sixty youths from ages eight and up competed with their steers during the Fair’s showmanship competition Wednesday night. Classes were based on the number of entries, and divided into three categories according to age. Juniors were ages eight to 10, intermediates ages 11 to 13, and seniors were ages 14 and up.

Exhibitors were judged on how well they exhibited and showed their steer, according to Danny Alphonso, one of the steer show directors. Each exhibitor paraded their steer around the ring while longtime livestock and showmanship judge, Matt Warren of Hardee County, evaluated them.

More than 150 parents, family, friends and spectators watched in the stands.

The show is not about the animals, but more about the youths and how they present their animal, said Alphonso.

“It teaches the kids responsibility, to take care of an animal and it prepares them for the future,” he said.

In the junior round, Clay Wingate finished first. It also was the first time the eight-year-old had exhibited a steer.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Wingate, a member of the Junior Cowmen’s 4-H Club. “My sisters have been doing it for a long time, so I wanted to.”

Ten-year-old Colby Quattlebaum finished second in the junior group, and nine-year-old Anna Bunyack finished third. In the intermediate group, Haley Yancey finished first, Dannie Glassburn finished second, and Elaine Mason finished third. In the senior group, Wyatt Fulghum finished first, Zach Quattlebaum finished second, and Maria Mathews finished third.

Warren called 16-year-old Fulghum of Southeast High School FFA, a “natural showman.” Throughout the two and a half hour show, Warren commended all of the youngsters for a job well done.

“I think we have a lot of future showmen and future leaders out here in the ring,” he said. “I think they deserve a round of applause.”

Kersey’s steer was a perfect gentleman in the ring, yet she was one of many youths that didn’t place with her steer. After some encouraging words from Warren as she exited the ring, she understood why.

“He told me I needed to make more eye contact with him,” she said. “With all of the other kids in out there, it was kind of hard.”

Warren repeatedly praised the youths on their showmanship skills, but also pointed out a few things to help the youths improve. Things like keeping their head up, watching the judge while in the ring, and knowing about their steer were a few of the suggestions he made.

Overall though, Warren had lots of good things to say about the exhibitors.

“You’ve got some great kids here,” said Warren. “There are a lot of things going right.”

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