Eight youths from Surry and Yadkin counties were among 32 participants from five counties in Saturday’s Yadkin/Davie Area 4-H Livestock Show at the Lone Hickory Indoor Arena.
Yadkin 4-H members participated in the following age divisions: Wesley Ratledge, 13-15; Eli Thomas, 11-12; Connor Cummings, 9-10; and Trent Cook and Caden Cummings, 5-8 (Cloverbuds). Surry County 4-H members participating were Gracelyn Reece and Olivia Smith, both in the 9-10 age group; and Grant Smith, 5-8 (Cloverbuds).
4-H members from Alexander, Davie and Stokes counties also participated. Competitors and their families began arriving at the arena at 9 a.m. with their heifers, steers, lambs and goats to prepare for the noon competition. About 150 spectators turned out for the four-hour event.
Wesley Ratledge, 14, of the Forbush community, was named the grand champion in the Beef Steer Class and reserve grand champion in the Beef Heifer Class for the 13-15 age group. He also competed in the Beef Showmanship competition.
Ratledge, whose family raises beef cattle, said he’s been participating in the livestock show since he joined the Yadkin County 4-H seven years ago. “I’ve gotten to meet people through many years of showing from all over the state,” he said, “and some from other states. It’s fun to show your animals.”
It’s also hard work, Ratledge added. “You can’t just sit around,” he said. “You’ve got to work with the animals during the day and get them ready for the show.”
A student at Forbush Middle School, Ratledge said he is considering going to college to become a veterinarian when he graduates from high school.
Ratledge said he enjoyed the show and appreciated the suggestions by Judge Greg Anderson, an extension agent from McDowell County, who offered feedback to all the participants. “He said I did really good, but that I need to work more with my cow because he wasn’t wanting to cooperate,” Ratledge said. “He said I shouldn’t stretch his legs so far.”
Melissa Staebner, Yadkin County’s 4-H agent for the past 16 years, said Anderson does a great job judging. “He tries to use it as a teaching and learning experience,” she said. “He works with young people from his area and is very active in the livestock industry here in North Carolina.”
Phil Rucker, the livestock agent for Yadkin and Davie counties, also helped with the show.
Other winners from Yadkin included Connor Cummings, who received first place for his record book in the 9-10 age group and fifth place in the sheep junior showmanship competition.
In the market lamb competitions, Gracelyn Reece received first place in the lightweight class followed by Olivia Smith in second. Unknowingly, they showed up for the competition wearing matching pink plaid shirts.
Eli Thomas, competing in the 11-12 age group, received several awards, including third place in the sheep junior showmanship competition. He also won the middleweight market lamb class, the heavyweight market lamb class and was selected as the grand champion in the market lamb competition.
Thomas also had the grand champion breeding ewe for the show. Olivia Smith and Gracelyn Reece placed third and fourth, respectively, in the breeding ewe class.
Staebner said Saturday’s livestock show brought in more spectators than ever before. “It’s a small show,” she said. “We focus on the counties that border Yadkin and have youth involved in the livestock programs.”
The annual competition started more than 20 years ago as a market lamb show, Staebner said, and has evolved through the years into a livestock show. “For many years, we held it out on a ballfield in East Bend,” she said, “and then when it got larger, we moved it down to the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds.”
For the last four years, the event has been held in the Lone Hickory Indoor Arena on Bethel Church Road. “It makes an excellent venue for the show,” Staebner said, “and this is one of the first shows of the season for our youth in the Northwest North Carolina area.”
Winners receive ribbons and monetary awards, Staebner said, as well as other prizes such as silver belt buckles, sheep blankets, halters, monogrammed duffle and garment bags, folding chairs and other items they can use for other shows.
The ribbons, monetary awards and prizes are made possible by the sponsors of the show, she said. “Without the sponsors, we wouldn’t even be having it.”
Sponsors for this year’s Yadkin/Davie Area 4-H Livestock Show were: Bartlett Milling Company; Carolina Farm Credit in Mocksville; Carolina Farm Credit in Pilot Mountain; Carolina Farm Credit in Yadkinville; Crissman, Mendenhall, Steelman, LLP; Davie County Farm Bureau, Inc.; Davie County 4-H; Deal-Rite Feeds; Gentry Family Funeral Service; Lake Phelps Grain, Inc.; Lone Hickory Indoor Arena; S & H Farm Supply; 21 Motors, Inc.; Valley Custom Vinyl; Yadkin County Farm Bureau; Yadkin Veterinary Hospital; Yadkin County 4-H; Yadkin/Davie Livestock Association; Lynn Yokley; Lowe’s Home Improvement; Unifi Manufacturing, Inc.; Rocky Creek Veterinary Service; Mary Joe Hanes; Crop Production Services, Inc.; and Performance Livestock & Feed, Inc.
Kathy Chaffin can be reached at 336-258-4058.