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Rebecca Van Camp shows off her Hereford beef cow.

 

For 13-year-old Rebecca Van Camp, the first time was the charm for winning at the fair with her beef cows. She placed second in showmanship with her 11-monthold Hereford beef cow and second place in the beef competition for her 9-month-old Angus-Holstein crossbreed. She also exhibited chickens in the Wayne County Fair in Palmyra, New York, in August.

“It went really well,” said the teen. “With the chickens, I didn’t place, because those ahead of me had more experience, so that’s OK.”

This year marked her second time of showing chickens at the Wayne County Fair.

“I’ve always wanted to show cows for a long time,” Rebecca said. “I’d always visit the barns during the shows. I got a cow for my birthday and I wanted to show it, so I did.”

She was happy to receive the second-place ribbon for her cow.

“I didn’t think I’d even place,” Rebecca said.

She hopes to show a better-quality beef cow next year, as she explained that her cow tends to exhibit more dairy traits than beef traits.

“I want a cow that has shorter legs and a bigger stomach,” she said.

Rebecca hopes to become a beef farmer when she grows up.

She named her newly established beef operation “Pine-apple Acres,” because of the pine trees in front of her Marion, New York, home. Also, the farm where she lives and keeps her cattle, Williams Cattle, grows apples. The farm also raises 250 head of beef cattle, cherries and corn on 200 acres, “but mostly apples,” Rebecca said.

She thought “Pine-apple” would offer a fun play on words as well as acknowledge her home. She even has a custom sign and logo T-shirts to promote her operation.

Rebecca pastures both her cows and offers hay along with a grain mix from Pine Creek Farm and Feed in Lyons, New York.

Rebecca said that she has benefited from mentors who helped her learn about exhibiting livestock. Her mother Erica Buttaccio’s partner, John Williams, is one of her mentors. She said that Williams and his friend, Lori Wheeler, “taught me everything I needed to know about showing.”

“John taught me how to halter the cows and lead them,” Rebecca said. “Lori taught me how to walk the cow, style the cows, and use the show stick.”

Since this was her first year showing cattle, she was not sure what to expect.

“I was surprised at how stressful it was,” she said. “It seemed easy practicing until you get into the ring. It can feel overwhelming, but also kind of fun.”

She also had not realized how much time it takes to care for cows compared with chickens.

“The chickens take 10 to 15 minutes (a day), but the cows take a lot more,” Rebecca said. “It takes longer to clean their pen and wash them in general.”

She owns 18 chickens that are laying hens and pets.

Rebecca hopes to show again next year. Since her current cows will be butchered at 16 or 18 months of age, she hopes to acquire different cows to show at the 2022 fair.

She tells anyone new to showing to “try your best. You won’t win every time. Practice, practice, practice.”

Wayne County Fair Info

The Wayne County Fair has its roots in 1849 when a group of residents from Palmyra, New York, hosted a horse race. In 1856, a group of area residents formed The Union Agricultural Society at Palmyra and held a three-day fair in October. The fair then constructed the Floral Hall, its _rst building, the same year and that structure is still in use by the fair.

Many other buildings and barns have been added since. The event has continued annually except for 2020, when, like most fairs, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated its suspension. This year, The Union Agricultural Society decided to host an “Agstravaganza” in lieu of the normal fair, held Aug. 7, 8 and 12-14. The event retained the leading 4-H and agricultural competitions with a smaller midway and few vendors. Though a curtailed event, the Agstravaganza focused on the fair’s beginnings as an agricultural exhibition.

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant is a freelance writer in central New York.

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