For family, a tradition of showing animals at Missouri State Fair

Saturday, August 18, 2012 | 6:56 p.m. CDT; updated 11:28 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 18, 2012
The Rankin family has been raising pigs, meat goats, sheep and steers to show at fairs for the past 13 years.

COLUMBIA — The national anthem begins. Everyone stops in their tracks and turns toward the flag, hand over heart. There is light applause as the song concludes. Then the day's festivities begin.

Clydesdales and steers begin to file into show arenas with their owners. In the Swine Barn, the Rankin family waits patiently to show the pigs they have raised for the 2012 Missouri State Fair.

The Rankins have been raising animals for show as a family for the past 13 years. In addition to the pigs, they raise sheep, meat goats and steers.

The family's fair tradition dates back to patriarch Bobby Rankin's first year in the 4-H Club when he was 8 years old.

He and his wife, Jo Britt-Rankin, continued it with their own family when their eldest daughter, Katlyn Garrett was old enough to become a 4-H'er at 8. Her three siblings — Kristopher, 19, Katryna, 18, and Kassie, 15 — all followed suit. 

"It's given our kids opportunity," Jo Britt-Rankin said. "They have met people from all over. They network and develop friendships throughout the country."

Katryna Rankin enjoys making new friends and seeing old ones at the various fairs in which they participate.

"I have friends here that I don't see anywhere else, so I don't really like to miss it," she said.

Meanwhile, Bobby Rankin appreciates the tradition and the socializing. His family says he's quite the talker.

"I showed here when I was a kid growing up in Illinois. I like visiting with the people I don't get to see otherwise," he said.

The eldest Rankin daughter, now 21, met her husband, Will Garrett, at the fair. The couple spent the entire summer raising the steers and sheep for the fair. To help the steers cope with the heat, Will Garrett hosed them down twice a day.  The pigs were rinsed every hour when the temperature was more than 100 degrees.

Will Garrett, too, was from a family of 4-H'ers, and the Garretts plan to carry on their families' 4-H traditions.

"Our goal is to become the producer that raises the show lambs," Katlyn Garrett said.

Katryna Rankin tends to the pigs shown in the fair. She took first in the Duroc barrow open show class last week.

Hers was one of the many awards the Rankin family has won over the years. Ten years ago, at ages 8 and 9 respectively, Katlyn Garrett and her brother Kristopher Rankin won grand champion and reserve champion for their meat goats in the Missouri State Fair. Last year, at the Boone County Fair, Katlyn Garrett auctioned her reserve grand champion crossbred market steer for over $21,000.

At this year's Boone County Fair, Katlyn and Will Garrett won grand champion and reserve grand champion lamb, which auctioned for over $11,000. Inspired by her mother's work with the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, she donated it all to the Buddy Pack program, which feeds more than 1,550 food-insecure children in the Boone County area.

After all these years, the Rankin family still enjoys working together. 

"You get to be more than a family; you get to be a team," Katlyn Garrett said. Although it took her some time to learn, she said a win for one member of the family is a win for the entire family.

Moreover, family members old and new appreciate the reward of hard work.

“I like that you get out of it what you put into it. If you put in a lot of time and effort, usually it works out pretty well," Will Garrett said.

Supervising editor is Hannah Cushman.

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