Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade
Special Sections Editor
In less than one month, dairy exhibitors from across the country will be heading to Harrisburg to compete in the super bowl of dairy shows. The All-American Dairy Show kicks off on Sept. 15 with the Pennsylvania Junior Dairy Show and Premier National Junior Event check-in at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, Pa.
Show manager Jim Sharp says things are going well as the complex prepares for the 2012 edition of the show. Entries are coming into the complex by mail and online registration as exhibitors register for the chance to chase one of the show’s prestigious awards.
There will be a couple of new items for the 2012 show, such as the webcasting of the seven open shows, which will be available for viewing on the Lancaster Farming website, www.lancasterfarming.com. Lancaster Farming, Jetstream Genetics and Pioneer Seeds are sponsoring the webcast.
Sharp said there will be a new “supreme” award for the Premier National Junior Show, the Supreme Champion Heifer award.
“This will give us another opportunity to recognize the outstanding animals that represent their breeds and their owners,” he said.
The only other national youth show with a similar award is the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.
The youth will receive the Samuel G. Yoder Crystal Star. The award was created to honor Yoder’s contribution to the All-American Dairy Show, which is why the national and mid-Atlantic Shorthorn societies were key in the award’s creation, according to Sharp.
Another new award, sponsored by Lanco-Pennland Quality Milk, is a milk quality award to recognize high quality milk produced by show exhibitors.
The All-American has become a family affair for many exhibitors.
“The show becomes an intergenerational event. When you have youth with a strong interest to learn, compete and develop, you have adults, family and instructors willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with these future leaders to teach, support and guide,” Sharp said. “These youth bring people to the show and add excitement. We continue to see many of these youth develop into agricultural leaders in their own field. We have also seen many return to volunteer at the show.”
Premier National Junior Show coordinator Patti Hushon continues to stress how this is a show designed to celebrate youth showmanship. The opening ceremonies for the junior activities were moved to Sunday evening. A photo contest on the Premier National Junior Event’s Facebook page has been going very well, Hushon said. The top four winners will be included in the opening ceremony events.
The All-American Dairy Foundation Inc. has also increased its support for the show’s youth events.
“We are trying to assist every youth activity at the All-American. We feel all of the youth activities has its unique educational qualities and attracts participation for these qualities,” said Bob Heilman, executive director for the foundation.
This year, the foundation released more than $15,000 to support the youth dairy show, dairy management contests, dairy judging events and other youth activities. Heilman said the foundation will continue its fundraising efforts at the 2012 show with a dairy embryo raffle.
Youth wiill continue to be predominantly displayed during the youth supreme champion selection on Monday, Sept. 17. Youth representatives from each breed will assist in the presentation of each of the breed champions. National youth breed royalty, state FFA officers, dairy princesses and others will also be seen throughout the day.
Hushon said a new feature is a legislative breakfast where county and state representatives will be able to attend the show. After a brief discussion, each of the legislators will be paired off with a show alumnus or youth to see the activities of the show.
“They will see the cows and kids everywhere,” said Hushon, noting there will be tour stops at the dairy barns, show ring and judging contest area.
The supreme champion pageant will kick off at 2:30 in the Equine Arena at the Farm Show Complex.
Other youth events include several dairy judging contests, a youth showmanship and fitting contest, dairy management contest and dairy career night.
The Pennsylvania Dairy and Allied Industries Association, the board that oversees the show, has kept its focus on providing a great experience to show exhibitors.
“Our job is to set the stage for a great week of competition, and let the exhibitors and the cows become the stars,” Sharp said.
The show will also highlight several award presentations. The crowning of the open supreme dairy champion will be Sept. 20 at the conclusion of the Holstein and Jersey shows. The selection will occur in the Large Arena of the Farm Show Complex.
Several special awards will also be presented Tuesday evening, the Obie Snider Award and the Image Award. The awards recognize dairymen and women for their leadership in the dairy industry and support of the All-American.
Sharp is mum on who the nominees are for this year’s award class.
“Since we are in the Olympic season, it is a fitting comparison. The winners have worked hard all their lives in an industry that is tough with ever-changing variables. They have succeeded in this environment. To be recognized for their contributions and accomplishments is very humbling,” he said.
This year marks the 49th edition of the show. And while organizers are focused on the 2012 show, their golden anniversary is not far from their minds.
“It will continue to be a vibrant, growing event. There are many ideas in the mix for an exciting and memorable 50th. The momentum that is building will carry us far,” Sharp said.
The show has definitely grown from its basic beginnings in the 1960s, and Sharp said the quality of the cows, competition and youth is something to see.
“We want people to come and walk through the barns, to visit the exhibitors and visit the trade show,” said Sharp. “We want people to come and experience the great cows that over a thousand exhibitors take time to bring out. It is truly a special dairy event.”