Local 4-H youth compete at National Western Stock Show | PostIndependent.com

Local 4-H youth compete at National Western Stock Show

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Kelley Cox Post Independent

A dozen local youngsters, all members of Garfield County 4-H, are loading up their curried livestock and heading to Denver to compete at the 106th National Western Stock Show.

The show, which started Thursday with a cattle drive through downtown Denver and runs to Jan. 22, takes place at the National Western complex in north Denver. It’s expected to attract 600,000 spectators and visitors for 16 days of events.

Before the kids left town, the Post Independent caught up with four of them to learn about the work they’ve been doing to prepare their cattle or goats for the stiff competition at National Western.

Brianna Shaner, 13, of Silt, is competing this weekend, showing the market calf she won last year at the stock show’s Catch-a-Calf competition, her first ever stock show event.

“He’s been wonderful,” she said of her steer, which she named Wapiti in recognition of her sponsor for the event, the Summit County Elks Lodge No. 2561. Wapiti originally was a Shawnee name for the American elk.

Wapiti will be part of what’s called a terminal sale, meaning the steer must be sold at the stock show, likely for slaughter.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “You really do get attached to them.”

Shaner also will be showing her Belted Galloway cattle at the show next weekend.

The breed, which first appeared in Scotland in the 16th century, features black, red or dun coloration of the head, shoulders and rear, framing a belt of white around the middle of the animal.

Shaner is a young and already successful breeder of Belties, as they are called. In 2010, she was named Breeder of the Year at the Colorado State Fair, according to her father, Greg Shaner.

“She’s a driven little girl,” the proud pop told the Post Independent in a telephone interview.

Brianna Shaner said she will be taking five of her Belties to Denver – a cow, a bull, a steer and two heifers. They’re all for show, not for sale at the stock show. She will be selling Belties at the Garfield County Fair, next August in Rifle.

This is Brianna’s fifth year in 4-H events. In addition to livestock, she been learning the heritage arts of crochet, quilting, spinning and weaving.

“Being in 4-H really helps me mature, I think,” she said. Brianna has been home-schooled, and participating in 4-H takes the place of the social interaction she might get at school.

She serves as treasurer of the Garfield County 4-H Council.

“I get to meet a lot of kids that way,” she said.

She plans to stay involved with 4-H and hopes to turn her love of working with animals into a career as a large-animal veterinarian.

“I really do love cows,” she said.

The only competitor this year from New Castle will be Annie McNeel, 18, the 2011 Garfield County Fair Queen. She has been going to the National Western since she was 9.

She will be making her final 4-H appearance at the stock show this year, showing market Boer goats, which she described as a goat variety from South Africa bred for its meat.

She will be competing in two different disciplines, the market show and showmanship competition set for Tuesday and Wednesday, and is taking three animals to the event.

“It’s a terminal show,” she said of the market competition. “So no matter how good you do or how bad you do, you have to get rid of them.”

McNeel has been showing goats or lambs every year throughout her 4-H career. It started when her mom, Carol McNeel, took her to the stock show with a group of older 4-H competitors. Annie got hooked.

For a few years, she tried to balance high school sports with 4-H. McNeel played basketball in her freshman and sophomore years and helped coach elementary school volleyball. But the sports commitments crimped the time she could devote to caring for her animals.

So for her junior and senior years, she dropped the sports and focused on 4-H.

“I miss it,” she said of sports, “but it’s worth it to get my goats into shape.”

Goats, she explained, are judged on muscle definition and structure as well as overall appearance. Keeping the goats fit takes considerable attention.

Over time, she has built her skills with livestock and won prizes and championships for her swine, lambs and goats at the Garfield County Fair and the Colorado State Fair. The 2010 State Fair senior showmanship prize netted her a $1,000 scholarship to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, where she will start this fall.

She plans to study elementary education and animal science.

“I want to be a teacher,” she said. “I really like working with younger kids.”

Looking back on her years in 4-H, she said, “It’s taught me really good responsibility, raising the animals, taking care of them.”

She hopes to return to Garfield County, in the summers at least, to work with the local 4-H program.

She’s already shifting her 4-H role this year, since she’ll be the informal guide to the National Western for first-timers Katy and Karly Manuppella, 11, of Rifle.

The identical twins have been working with livestock and showing at the Garfield County Fair for four years. They are heading to Denver in part because this is Annie McNeel’s last year, said their mom, Kaycee Manuppella.

“She’s been a mentor to the girls, and they really look up to her,” she said. The twins are looking forward to taking advantage of McNeel’s knowledge and experience as they get to know the stock show scene.

Katy and Karly started out in 4-H with swine, but have switched to goats. Last summer they went to livestock jackpot events in Loveland, Hotchkiss, Grand Junction and Rifle to compete against other youngsters for prize money.

“They usually come close to covering their entry fees,” Kaycee Manuppella said with a laugh.

At the 2011 Garfield County Fair, Karly was named champion in Junior Goat Showmanship, while Katy came in second, earning the reserve title.

The occasion prompted a little humorous confusion when the identical twins appeared side by side for a final round of questions from the judge in the goat showmanship competition.

“It was pretty comical,” Kaycee Manuppella recalled. “They got a laugh out of the crowd. It was down to the two of them, but Karly squeaked by on that one.”

She gained an edge by giving a more clear answer to a judge’s question.

Meanwhile, Katy took the county fair’s overall championship in the market goat category.


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