Following is a guest post from Marisa Linton. Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock, and currently lives on her family’s small farm in Mount Olive. She has shown animals at the N.C. State Fair for 14 years and is a past youth livestock scholarship recipient. She is an N.C. State University graduate, agricultural photographer and blogger.
During this holiday season, we tend to reminisce about all there is to be thankful for. I decided to ask livestock folks, who are some of my favorite people, why they are thankful for livestock shows, especially those at the N.C. State Fair. They shared some pretty great stuff! Here are the top 10 things people who show livestock are thankful for:
I’m thankful that showing livestock has…
1. Taught kids to be classy
“Showing livestock teaches kids how to win and LOSE with class!”—Liz-Anne Earle, Wilson County
I think the world can be thankful that there are more individuals walking around with class and good sportsmanship thanks to livestock shows.
2. Developed Friendships that turn into Family
“I’m very thankful for all the people I’ve met over the years at the fair. They’ve helped me with so much, and we’re like a big show family.”—Joy Leigh Hinnant, Johnston County
“I am thankful to have had the opportunity to show livestock because I have met the most amazing people, that are now like family.” –Mandy Hughes, Johnston County
“I am thankful for my show family, because it truly takes a village to raise kids, and I have others around who will help instill morals and values to my kids.”—Nicole Cox, Onslow County
Showing livestock develops lifelong friendships. No, scratch that. It develops a family that you laugh and learn with. What may have started as an experience that helped your biological family grow closer together, ultimately leads to an expansion of family. Suddenly, you have extra siblings and adopted show parents—all thanks to showing livestock.
3. Given me mentors
“I am grateful for those that taught me how to show and for the opportunity to also teach others how to develop their showmanship skills! The student becomes the teacher!”—Allison Dunn, Wilson County
There is a lot to learn when showing livestock, and there isn’t exactly a universal handbook that you can read. Thankfully, there seems to always be people willing to answer questions and become mentors to youth. Even more beautiful is when the mentee becomes the mentor.
4. Given me the chance to give back
“I’m thankful for the fair because I get to help a person with special needs show a calf. It’s the only place I get to do this, and I enjoy helping someone show an animal at the fair.”—Joy Leigh Hinant, Johnston County
Grateful hearts tend to overflow with love. They know that they have had many people encourage, support and teach them. And, they know how important it is to continue the trend and give back.
5. Allowed me to make memories
“Given me lifelong friends and memories.” –Brian Stallings, Pasquotank County
Days spent in barns, hours spent at shows…it all provides the perfect place for wonderful memories to be made with your favorite people.
6. Helped me on my career path
“I am thankful to have shown livestock because it led me to the industry that my life now revolves around. If not for getting involved with livestock judging and showing, I wouldn’t be in school studying ag production and animal science because I simply didn’t know anything about it before then. I’m almost done with my BS at University of Mount Olive and am planning to work in agriculture and continue to promote the industry.” –Danielle Henderson Riggs, Pitt County
Unfortunately, youth do age out of the show world, but that doesn’t mean they leave it behind. Many go on to careers in agriculture because they have developed such a passion for livestock and agriculture. That passion comes from showing.
7. Find my love
“I’m thankful for livestock showing, because that’s how I met my husband!” –Nicole Cox, Onslow County
I’d say that in almost every show barn is at least one livestock romance. Livestock love sparks over a common passion. However, it can get awkward when you must compete against each other in the ring.
8. Helped me pay for my education
“Not only has showing given my daughter experiences, she has also been able to accumulate a college savings account.”—Kristie Thompson Powell, Johnston County
“I raised a hog every year since I was nine for our county livestock show and much of the money earned was put towards my education!”—Allison Dunn, Wilson County
Showing livestock not only gives youth a passion that extends into the future, but it also provides means for them to pursue an education in that passion or any other passion they may have.
9. Taught me many lessons
“Raising livestock has shown my daughter hard work and dedication. She’s even learned a lot about genetics and how they affect the outcome of shows.”—Kristie Thompson Powell, Johnston County
The amount of lessons that are learned in the show barn are endless. It may be lessons in character, or lessons in genetics…regardless, youth are continuously learning.
10. I’m thankful for livestock
Of course, any showman is thankful for their livestock. They can be messy, stubborn and frustrating, but there is a special bond that is developed.