By: Abby Motter, Richland County

You’ve seen the pictures: a youth exhibitor with their face stretched into an enthusiastic smile holding a halter. The whole family crowded eagerly around a beautifully groomed livestock animal, a purple banner in a proud dad’s clenched hands, an Ohio State Fair background. You know what I’m talking about. Earning a “Premier Exhibitor” banner alongside Campbell Farms at the Ohio State Fair will forever be one of my fondest memories, and proudest moments. There is no replacement for the experience of exhibiting livestock at the Ohio State Fair, not only will you have fun, you’ll also learn a little about life. Here are some guaranteed take-aways from showing at the Ohio State Fair. 

1. Strong work ethic

Early mornings and late nights, hours spent working with livestock until they’re show ready, travel and a monetary investment in your animals requires a lot of dedication. When you show at the State Fair it takes another level of commitment. Participating in the Ohio State Fair supports a strong work ethic and initiative in preparing your animals to be their best. Along the way, you’ll gain lessons in money management, balancing your checkbook with feed costs, new show clothes and premiums. You also will learn to manage your time, working with livestock on top of school and sporting events. Even at the Fair you will have to squeeze in time for a funnel cake while fitting your animal for that afternoon’s show.

2. Sharing the story of agriculture

Nestled in the heart of Columbus, the Ohio State Fair creates the opportunity to interact with consumers who may be far removed from the agricultural industry. For youth involved in showing livestock, it’s important to have conversations and answer questions about our animals, our industry and agriculture with any fairgoer who might stop at our pen. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from educating others about your passions, the Ohio State Fair allows you to practice and perfect your agricultural advocacy skills! 

3. Networking

The statement “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know” couldn’t be more true in the agricultural industry. Showing livestock at the Ohio State Fair will introduce you to fellow breeders across the state, giving you the chance to exchange management practices and ideas. In order to successfully market your product, you’ll also have to market yourself. At the Fair you will meet with industry specialists, sponsors and buyers who are all interested in the face behind the animal and its products. This is a great way to build your personal brand and make connections that will last a lifetime. Especially for youth interested in agricultural careers, it always helps to have someone who can speak positively on your behalf when you apply for future jobs!

4. Pride

There is nothing quite like the firm handshake of a judge when you’re standing at the top of the class. Seeing all of your hard work be rewarded with success at the Ohio State Fair creates a feeling of pride like no other. You’re representing your family, your community, your county and Ohio agriculture to a wide audience every time you step into the ring. Not to mention the young showmen that look up to you for integrity, character and showmanship tips and tricks. There is great satisfaction competing against the best livestock in the state, win or lose, you are motivated to improve the next show season! 

5. Confidence

I remember my first time in the ring with only a show stick and halter separating me from a 700-pound feeder calf. I also remember the first time my animal got a little rowdy during a competition and how quickly I became frustrated. Each year that I exhibited livestock, I became more calm, cool and collected in working with my animals, no matter what happened. Showing livestock creates confidence in your ability to continually set goals, work hard and improve with tangible results. Instead of being self-conscious in the ring, the Ohio State Fair encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone and compete at a higher level.

Make your own memories, and gain lessons that will last a lifetime, by showing livestock at the 2018 Ohio State Fair. Learn more, here. Entries are due June 20, 2018. You won’t regret the opportunity to be proud of your accomplishments.

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