Junior Spring Classic offers show-ring experience for youth
By Heather Thorstensen
AUSTIN, Minn. — The Minnesota Junior Spring Classic will be held at the Mower County fairgrounds in Austin April 17-19.
The event is open to anyone 21 years old and younger as of Jan. 1. Participants can enter until April 18.
Check-in and weigh-in will begin April 17 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., then continue April 18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
A boot camp April 18 with educational seminars on fitting, clipping, showmanship and animal nutrition will be held from 2 p.m.. to 5 p.m. A T-shirt and dinner from Austin’s Piggy Blue’s BBQ is included in the boot camp’s $20 registration fee. Participants will also have a chance to win one of 30 Oster clippers and other giveaways, such as show supplies and 12 feed pans.
The cattle show starts April 19 at 8 a.m. The entrance fee is $30 per head.
"Last year we had 125 head of cattle at the show and we had 101 kids attend the boot camp," said coordinator Heidi Allen. "Not all the kids that attended the show attended the boot camp and some kids that attended the boot camp didn’t show an animal. We do encourage that even if cattle aren’t ready for the show season, still come to learn."
The focus of the event is provide an educational opportunity, she said.
"We focus on education, family and giving kids the opportunity to show their animals in a competitive environment, but in an environment that is a learning experience," she said.
During boot camp, participants will be split into two groups by age and rotate between seminars. Cattle judge Brad Hanewich from Illinois will lead the hour-long fitting and clipping demonstration. Ben Hawkins of Belle Plaine will present for a half hour on showmanship and Todd Franz from Diamond V will give the half hour demonstration on nutrition.
There will be five breed shows April 19: Shorthorn, Simmental, Angus, Charolais and Limousin. There will also be a commercial division for heifers and an all other breeds class. A Champion Female will be chosen in addition to a Champion Market Animal, selected from the champion steer, champion market heifer and champion dairy steer.
Top-ranked exhibitors get ribbons and cash premiums, but no one goes home empty-handed. The majority the classic’s sponsorship money goes toward paying exhibitors in the show.
"We pay all the way through," explained Allen. "The goal is to get the entry fee back to the kids."
A showmanship division divides participants by age into junior, intermediate and senior groups. Seniors compete for a chance to win a Sullivan show supply groom chute worth $450.
Allen, who began coordinating the show after her sophomore year at Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, is happy to help put on the event. Now 22-years-old and preparing for a May graduation, she said the event is an improved version of the Junior Purebred Heifer Classic, a show she used to exhibit in that ended in 2006.
"I hated to see a show of youth development die like that," Allen said. "I wanted to give that experience to other kids that were up and coming in the beef cattle industry."
The show has received over $20,000 of monetary and non-monetary donations form local businesses, breeders and breed associations.
"All of that is extremely important for success in the show," said Allen.
For more information, visit the Minnesota Junior Spring Classic Web site at www.minnesotajsc.com.