7/19/2014 7:00 AM
By Rebecca Long Chaney Correspondent At-Large
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Junior exhibitors from as far away as Oregon, Wyoming and California brought their show cattle cross country for the Junior National Hereford Expo, held July 5-12 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.
There were 610 junior members from 34 states who gathered for cattle shows and 23 skill-based competitions. “A Sweet Family Tradition” was the theme as families explored the sweet nearby tourist spots that were part of the draw to the conference.
“I think it’s been a great event and has attracted lots of new members from the Eastern states,” said Amy Cowan, director of the American Hereford Youth Foundation and national youth Hereford activities director.
“This is the first time in the history of the JNHE for it to be held this far on the East Coast. It gives so many more kids an opportunity to participate, and hopefully they will come back next summer,” she said. “It was great to see so many new faces.”
Cowan has worked with the American Hereford Association for 16 years and has been devoted to the youth program for the past six years.
She said that seeing youths she has worked with over the years grow into professional leaders in the agricultural industry makes her proud of what she does with young Hereford members across the country.
“An example of one of my former Hereford juniors working in the industry is Morgan Firestine,” Cowan said. “Morgan was a junior member and now she works for the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. She was my main contact to plan this year’s junior national event.”
According to Cowan, the host state usually plans most of the junior expo in cooperation with the American Hereford Junior Association. This year’s national event was a combined effort with six host states working together.
Doug Howe of Wagontown, Pa., the planning chairman, said he had a great committee to work with and the number of exhibitors was great for an event being held on the East Coast.
“We’ve learned some things, but it’s all been good,” he said. “We’ve gotten positive feedback, the Farm Show facility shines, and exhibitors are excited to be here.”
“Of the six host states, we delegated jobs and it really worked out well,” he said. “New Jersey did a tremendous job with hospitality. ... Maryland did a great job with contests and the goodie bags. West Virginia handled the program, and New York took care of decorations. Pennsylvania was responsible for the facility, and Virginia took care of awards.”
Howe said the collective effort succeeded because it didn’t burden one state and its members with all the work. “Many hands make light work,” he said.
And that hard work provided a memorable expo for 10-year-old Rylee Stockdale and the hundreds of other juniors there.
Rylee lives in Dayton, Pa., and was attending her second junior national expo. Her parents operate a cow/calf operation in western Pennsylvania, and Rylee had a busy week taking care and exhibiting five of her favorite show heifers.
“I like to show cattle and see all my friends,” she said. “I’ve seen some kids that I met at last year’s national show in Kansas City.”
As a young exhibitor, Rylee said she gets help from older kids and her parents. “I learn a lot about showing by watching the bigger kids,” she said. “This show teaches me more about cattle and the Hereford breed.
“My favorite heifer is Bailey, a fall yearling,” she said. “I was so excited when the judge named her Division 4 (polled heifer) champion.”
In addition to showing her prized Herefords, Rylee also competed on the Pennsylvania quiz bowl team, the judging contest and showmanship.
“I can’t wait for the junior national show next year, and I plan to go to Grand Island, Neb.,” she said.
Some of the other winners from the East were Sam Birdsall of New York, fourth in peewee individual sales; Skye Budney of Connecticut, first in intermediate extemporary speaking; and Cody Harpster of Pennsylvania, third in intermediate extemporary speaking.
Virginia was first in the Junior Hereford Quiz Bowl, and team members were Ashley and Brent Hostetter, Abigail Allen, and Paul Craun.
The team hailing from New England was third in the Certified Hereford Beef Grill-Off. Team members were Elliott Budney, Sammy Barrett, Tyler Dexter and Will Houser.
The junior peewee teams from Maryland placed first and second in the judging contest. First place team members were Kaylie Shelton, Ella Jacobs, Madelyn Grimmel and Kaisy Knott. Second place team members were Izzy Bohrer, Bryce Zepp, Kelsey Zepp and Payton Zepp.
The Maryland Peewee team also took first-place honors in the three-on-three basketball tournament. Team members were Kaylie Shelton, Bryce Zepp and Ethan Zepp.
Maryland’s Melissa Grimmel won the senior creative design contest. She was also first in Hereford enhanced photo and third in the Hereford Cattle Photo category.
Madelyn Grimmel and Kaylie Shelton were selected as the top 10 best showman in the peewee showmanship competition.
Rianna Chaney, formerly of Maryland and this correspondent’s daughter, captured the top fourth-grade Hereford prospect award, while her sister Sheridan took second place honors in the junior poster contest.
Kaylie, Rianna and Sheridan were also selected as six national junior Hereford princesses to help hand out awards in the show ring.
For complete cattle and show ring results, visit www.Hereford.org and look under “favorites,” then click on National Show Results.