COLUMBIA — Amid the sound of running tractors, children led their calves into the MFA Show Pavilion on Monday evening. Once in the ring, the children gently tapped the legs of their calves with guiding sticks to instruct them on how to stand.
Judges went to each pair in turn and asked each child about their animal. The small parade then led their calves to the other side of the ring and waited to hear the results of the Boone County Fair's Pee Wee Showmanship competition.
The Pee Wee competition is a way for young children to prepare for bigger livestock shows by raising a baby animal — usually a calf or a lamb — and teaching it to walk on a lead and stand for the judges. The children are expected to know the age of their animals and be able to tell the judges how they care for the animals and how they trained it up until the show, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Millie Sexten participated in the show for the first time this year with her calf, Marie. Marie was named after Marie Watkins Oliver, the creator of the Missouri state flag, by Millie's sister, who had done a project about Oliver in school that year.
The participants raise their animals almost from birth and train them for the months leading up to the show.
"We give them a bath, wash them and lead them around the backyard," said Kaylie Ensor, who won the 4-H bucket calf competition with her calf, Case. She participated in the Pee Wee competition for three years, and this was her first year in the bucket calf competition, for older children.
Millie and Kaylie agreed that training the calves to walk on a harness was the hardest part. Millie said getting Marie back to the barn after their walk was the hardest part.
Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.