The Vanhoy sisters have dedicated eight years of their lives to showing livestock at the N.C. State Fair

For some, anticipation for the North Carolina State Fair comes from dreaming about delicious, deep-fried food. For others, it comes from preparing an animal all year long and seeing your hard work pay off.

The North Carolina State Fair is a time-honored tradition for many families in the state, and offers many opportunities to showcase the talents and skills of North Carolinians

That is just what Hannah and Emma Vanhoy do every year at the beef heifer livestock competitions at the N.C. State Fair. The sisters have been showing beef heifers at the Fair for the past eight years and love the challenge of working with animals.

“We started showing with our high school livestock show team,” Hannah said. “When Covid started, we started showing on our own and have been ever since.”

Now, Emma is going into her second year of college and Hannah is an incoming freshman, both at North Carolina State University. Over the years, the two have accomplished and learned so much through the Fair.

“The biggest lesson I have learned has probably been that you get out what you put in,” Hannah said. “You must be diligent about the goals that you want to achieve. If you put in time and focus on what you want to achieve you will see the rewards.”

In 2021, Emma won the reserved supreme heifer at the junior show. This was a monumental win for her, as the calf had never won before. The sisters had gone through different problems with the calf, but she blossomed at the fair.

“It was pivotal,” Hannah said. “I even wrote my college essay on it. We took an animal that no one thought would win, and we did the unthinkable.”

The sisters’ success at the fair is a testament to their hard work and dedication. They spend hours every day feeding, grooming and training their heifers. They also attend county fairs to get experience showing their animals in front of judges before the State Fair.

“Hannah and I bought the cows we’re taking to the Fair last spring,” Emma said. “We have to find the animals and then bring them home and get a routine of feeding and rinsing and trying to get the animal comfortable around people.”

Developing a passion for raising and showing animals means that the sisters are continually learning. The North Carolina State Fair livestock community has helped the sisters in many ways.

From learning the ropes of clipping, rinsing and breaking to finding the best calf to buy for competitions, the sisters say that people in the livestock community have helped them grow over the years.

“I think the best advice would be to find a mentor,” Emma said. “The show world is completely different from anything else. We’ve had a bunch of people that helped us out and they are the reason that we are successful.”

From family friends to fellow competitors, the sisters are grateful for the relationships they’ve made from showing at the N.C. State Fair, Emma said. “The five Harward sisters (fellow competitors) have been showing for 15 years and they’ve helped us out a lot. Our parents had friends that grew up showing they helped us learn how to do things like clip. There’s a bunch of different people that have helped us and we are grateful for that.”

 In addition to their success at the fair, the sisters have also received a N.C. State Fair Youth Livestock Scholarship. This scholarship is available to all youth continuing their education after high school who have competed in competitions at the N.C. State Fair. The scholarships are funded from a percentage of the total sales generated through the N.C. State Fair Sale of Champions. Emma received one her first year of college, and both siblings received the award this year.

“It’s really cool to take these experiences and these passions and to have a program that can help us benefit from it,” Hannah said.

The sisters do end up competing against each other once Fair time rolls around, but admit that while they are competitive, they must work together to raise a calf of the highest caliber.

“I think we are competitive, but I like to think that we help each other out a lot, Emma said. “I’ll go rinse her calves for her. It’s a group effort. The animals are not mine or hers, they’re ours.”

This year, however, will be a little bit different. With both girls going off to college, sacrifices have to be made, Hannah said “this upcoming year is going to be a learning process. our dad is committed to our animals, so we are thankful for that.”

“We have great parents that love us very much. We work out our schedules and we go home to work with the show calves, it’s a personal preference,” Emma said. “Because we love it so much, we’re willing to come home and then we have our parents who help us. Our dad is down at the show barn probably just as much as we are. We would not be able to do it without them.”

The Vanhoy sisters are a testament to the hard work and dedication that it takes to become great at what you love doing. Livestock competitions at the North Carolina State Fair are a great way to build community and learn lessons that will last a lifetime.

The N.C. State Fair’s runs Oct. 12-22. Visit the official website to register for competitions today. The deadline for submitting most entries is Sept. 15, but don’t hesitate to enter in your preferred competitions early.  This year, all contest entrants are required to submit W-9 forms along with their entry submissions.

About Karsyn Westerbeek

Hi everybody! I am Karsyn Westerbeek, but you can call me Wolf Tracks. I am a rising senior at North Carolina State University where I major in Communication with a minor in Business Administration. I am from Warsaw, North Carolina, and have always been a fan of the Wolfpack. I absolutely love the State Fair and its ability to bring our community together. That being said, I am so excited to be working as a public relations intern for the State Fair this summer!

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