WAPAKONETA — A pair of St. Marys siblings could be found Wednesday afternoon preparing their calves for the upcoming show.
Lee Ann Bertke and her brother, Todd, were brushing their two calves, creating shiny coats and making sure they were in tip-top condition for the judges before the Junior Fair Beef Breeding and Feeder Calf Show.
“My favorite part is showing how much I accomplished and just going out there and having fun,” Lee Ann said.
The Buckeye Beavers 4-H Club member said she learned much while being apart of 4-H and bringing animals to the fair.
“This has taught me a lot of leadership skills and I learned so much in 4-H,” Lee Ann said.
She also said she learned a lot about her animal, her Holstein dairy feeder calf, which she used her knowledge of the animal to help her get through the 4-H livestock interviews that were held two weeks ago.
“I learned a lot of stuff before the fair,” Lee Ann said. “You tell the judges what you learned, and I talked to them about my calf.”
When it comes to showing, she said the most challenging part is making sure the animals cooperate, especially when it comes to judging time.
“The hardest part is making sure they stand straight and look good,” the 16-year-old said.
She and her brother take care of their animals every day — by feeding them, walking them and giving them plenty of water.
“I plan to take the calf as a steer next year,” Lee Ann said.
Her younger brother has also been showing for four years and said he also enjoys it, as he had the idea to show their uncle’s calves years ago.
The siblings purchase the animals from their uncle, and then they begin training them for the shows.
“Me and her (Lee Ann) train them up to when they are shown,” the 13-year-old said. “My favorite part of showing is just to see if you get placed.”
But Todd always makes sure he is having fun doing it.
“I just like to have fun with it,” Todd said.
Keeping the calves calm is one of the hardest parts for Todd.
“When they see a bunch of people, sometimes they freak out,” Todd said. “We have to keep them calm.”
LeeAnn and Todd, who are the children of Teresa and Roger Bertke, said their trick is to wash their animals right before showing.
“It’s to make their coats shine,” Todd said.
Things that the showers are judged on during the show are muscle structure of the animal posture of the calves.
Stephanie Albers, of Minster, said the best part of showing is the rewarding feeling of accomplishment.
“You put time and effort into this, and its rewarding in the end,” Albers said. “Just even getting in the ring and showing the animals is rewarding.”
Albers showed her heffer for the Beef Breeding and Feeder Calf Show and showed her dairy steer for the Dairy and Market Steer Show, both of which were held on Wednesday.
One thing that Albers does to prepare her animals for the fair is to break them in.
“I get them (heifers) used to showing and walking,” the member of Minster Livestock and Minster FFA said.
Albers said the hardest part of showing her animals is balancing it between softball.
“The hardest part is the time you put into it,” Albers said. “I do softball year round so I have to balance time between both — but I still love doing it.”
This was Albers’s sixth time showing, and she said it gets easier every year.
“When I first showed, I was nervous,” Albers said. “Now I know what to expect.”
Kerrie Miller, of Wapakoneta, has been showing at the Auglaize County Fair for seven years, and this year she showed her Angus during the beef show.
Miller has won grand champion in past years, including her grand champion award for her Angus and grand champion overall for her heifer at last year’s fair.
“I show all around Ohio,” Miller said. “I do different shows to help prepare me for the (Auglaize County) fair.”
The Prospects 4-H Club member works with her livestock every day so the animal does not get nervous. She said remaining calm is not a problem for her.
“I don’t really get nervous,” Miller said. “I’m so used to showing that it doesn’t phase me at all.”