The next generation of the beef industry converged on the Adelaide Showground this week for four days of fun, learning and a chance to make or renew some great friendships.
The SA Junior Heifer Expo is so highly regarded that when entries opened back in June the cap of 150 competitors were reached within a couple of days.
In the end the committee were able to accommodate a few of those on the waiting list too with 171 young beef enthusiasts, aged 8-23 years, from SA, Vic, NSW, Qld and WA participating.
Expo publicity officer Katelin Davies said the event was a great success.
She said they continuously strived to further their experienced entrants but was pleased with 47 first-time entrants - more than a quarter of all the competitors.
"Being able to attract and engage kids that are new to agriculture is a driving force for our committee," she said.
"The education program was meticulously designed to ensure that all entrants were provided the opportunity to not only hone their cattle preparation skills but to also grow their knowledge of the wider agriculture industry."
Mrs Davies said the Expo also gave the young ones a chance to meet and spend time with like-minded peers while also showing a heifer or commercial animal.
"Ultimately this is the beginning of lifelong friendships that we as a committee credit in our own lives to either this event or similar youth shows," she said.
On the final day of the event the competitors were judged on their parading abilities.
Handlers judge Scott Myers, The Rock, NSW, very impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the youth.
The stud stock agent with H. Francis & Co and Limousin breeder said the committee had done a fantastic job connecting the entrants with beef cattle.
"Over the last four days I have seen these kids grow and develop and get better and better, they will get confidence in themselves as well," he said.
Mr Myers said it had been very difficult separating the top placegetters in many classes with many entrants worthy of broad ribbons.
"It is all about the animals - the best handler is one that blends into the background, he said.
"They are the one where the animal is always standing the way it needs to be and is positioned in the right spot and every time the judge looks at the animal it is standing absolutely spot on profile."
Associate judge Duane Wilson, Arabar Charolais and Limousin stud, Balaklava,-who was the reserve champion herdsperson in 2019- said he thoroughly enjoyed coming back as a judge after competing at the Expo for many years.
"I found it really hard because all the kids are doing the best job they can, rather than judging I used it, along with Scott, more as an experience of being able to tell the kids how to improve," he said.
"The most humbling part was seeing kids when I was in seniors that are now coming up, just seeing what they have learned in the last few years and are putting into practice is fantastic."
A long-held dream came true for Phoebe Eckermann, Aruma Limousin stud, Korunye, winning the major prize of a three month overseas beef study tour.
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