COLUMBIA — Ethan Miller, 7, tapped his calf, April, on the feet with a stick and struggled to pull her head up as a judge interviewed him Monday at the Boone County Fair.
Ethan answered questions about how he raised his heifer and why he chose to name her April. He had been taking care of the 4-month-old animal since its birth, so he was prepared, he said.
The Pee Wee Showmanship event gave children not old enough for regular 4-H competition, like Ethan, experience showing animals, event superintendent Becky Motts said. About 30 children aged 5 to 8 years old entered the competition.
The event is designed to allow children to practice the basics of showmanship. Exhibitors often show young animals that are easier to handle, and they learn how to not be nervous or scared for when they show in actual 4-H competition starting at age 8, Motts said.
Kaitlynn Murphy, 5, said she knew how to answer most of the judge's questions, but she forgot how old her goat, Max, was. She said she wasn't nervous even though she made a mistake.
"It went good," Kaitlynn said while petting her goat. "I learned, 'Don't be sad.' But if you are, pet your goat."
Cassidy Murphy, 7, said that taking care of her goat, Blackberry, can be hard work, but getting to show him is exciting. She has to feed him every day and had to give him a bath before the competition. When it was bath time her goat didn't listen, she said.
"He did not like getting a bath," Cassidy said. "He tried getting through the fence and running away."
Christi Miller said her son, Ethan, takes care of his calf by himself and has done a great job raising it. She said her children have learned how to be responsible through raising calves.
"They're not afraid and they know hard work," she said. "It's a part of life."
Miller said Ethan has taken care of the calf in the backyard since the day it was born. After her son finishes showing his calf at the fair, it will finally join its mother and sister as part of the herd the family owns.
"After the fair, she'll eventually get to be a momma cow," Ethan said with a smile.
Supervising editor is Jake Kreinberg.