7/19/2014 7:00 AM
By Rebecca Long Chaney Special to Lancaster Farming
HARRISBURG, Pa. — While cattle, show sticks and show ring action were a highlight at the VitaFerm Junior National Hereford Expo last week in Harrisburg, 23 skill-based contests were also on the agenda for many of the 610 exhibitors from 34 states attending the annual event.
Not only were there individual contests, but state junior groups entered several team competitions. One of the most popular contests was the Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) Grill-Off, where team members grill CHB and then do a skit to not only introduce their tasty creation but to show the importance of CHB in your diet.
“The CHB Grill-Off was introduced 10 years ago by the National Hereford Women and the National Certified Hereford Beef Board,” said Amy Cowan, Hereford Youth Foundation director and director of youth activities. “They wanted to create a contest to promote CHB.”
Eight teams competed and each team could have up to five members. Andrew Brooks, vice president of marketing for CHB, was one of the judges and said it was a tough contest to judge. “The youth impressed me with their knowledge and passion they possessed about the breed and CHB product they wish to deliver to consumers,” he said.
Brooks believes the CHB Grill-Off offers an opportunity for Hereford youth to learn even more about the breed and its product. “From a Certified Hereford Beef standpoint, the contest is important because it engages us with our future board members,” Brooks explained. “These young people are raising the genetics that are going to continue to carry us forward as industry leaders in palatable beef. It’s important they have an understanding of CHB and how we’ll affect each other’s livelihood moving forward.”
Twelve-year-old Jacob Bowen of Calvert, Md., was on the Maryland Junior Grill-Off team. This was his second junior national show and second time to compete in the Grill-Off contest.
“We made (a) tri-tip sandwich using Certified Hereford Beef,” he said. “We bring the grill, our seasonings and other ingredients, and the Hereford Association provides the Hereford beef.”
According to Bowen, the team grills the beef first using their special seasonings and ingredients. Then the team does a skit.
“Our skit included a doctor and patients,” he said. “Every illness’ they had was cured with Certified Hereford Beef.”
Joining Bowen on the Maryland team was his brother Edward, Ella Jacobs of Frederick, Tess Gavagan of Mount Airy and Katelyn Williams of Jefferson.
This was William’s first junior national show and first time in the Grill-Off.
“My cousin, Ella, got me interested in Herefords so I wanted to do all I could do,” she said. “My aunt said the Grill-Off would be fun, and it was fun. I hope to do it again next year. After we grilled the tri-tip, we did a 5-minute skit and then we served the judges.”
According to Williams, not a lot of people are familiar with CHB. “I think the Grill-Off is really important because it exposes so many kids to the CHB product,” she said. “The contest helped me learn about it. Now, I can share what I’ve learned and promote Certified Hereford Beef.”
Williams said the contest allowed her to meet other kids raising Herefords around the country and a chance to see what they prepared and what skits they created to promote CHB.
The Grill-Off team from New England had a Mexican theme. Team member Sammy Barrett of Lancaster, Mass., spoke Spanish while another teammate translated. “We made margarita beef skewers,” she said. “I talked about the ingredients in Spanish and we had Mexican music.”
The New England team captured third place in the National Grill-Off contest. Its other team members were Tyler Dexter of Pepperell, Mass., Elliott Budney of Lebanon, Conn., and Will Houser of Sudbury, Mass.
Barrett has competed in a similar beef grill-off contest at the Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts. “I enjoy doing contests and we have a lot of fun doing the Grill-Off at the Junior National Hereford Expo. It’s a way for us to share our interest and knowledge in Certified Hereford Beef.”
The Grill-Off team from Kansas took first-place honors followed by the team from Kentucky.
Certified Hereford Beef was established in 1995. The Hereford breed dates back to 1881 and has the oldest breed association in the U.S.