The distinct smell of cattle and grooming supplies were in the air at the Midway Exposition Center arena today after exhibitors, parents and community members kicked off the 11th annual Alpha Gamma Rho Classic steer and heifer show Saturday.
The event started with a judging contest for 4-H and FFA students. The MU agriculture fraternity has been hosting the free contest for several years in an effort to give students more opportunities to judge cattle.
“We’re not in it for the money, we just want to give the kids some good experience,” said Cody Brock, organizer of the judging contest.
There were six different judging classes for the cattle and two questions classes for each of the students to participate in. Most of the cattle being judged were submitted by exhibitors, but one local producer, Lloyd Cash of Fayette brought in his bulls. There were 19 students competing in the 14 and over age group, and 12 in the 13 and under competition.
Josh Bondy, an agriculture education teacher from Keytesville, brought four students to judge the classes of heifers, bulls and cross-bred steers.
“The event is a good opportunity for students to see livestock early in the year,” Bondy said. “We’ve got a young team, but with a lot of practice events such as this, we should do fairly well.”
Alan Brandt, a 4-H member from Centralia, said he sees the event as great practice.
“I’ve come for the last two years, and it’s a good experience every time,” Brandt said. “Every little bit you can practice, you’ll learn something new and get a little better.”
The main show started around noon with the first of 54 heifer classes. Exhibitors from eight different states brought in more than 500 head of cattle.
“These numbers are the best we’ve ever seen,” said Joe Don McGaugh, 2005 AGR Classic chairman.
McGaugh said the main goal for the show is to increase agricultural leadership among exhibitors and people in the agribusiness industry.
“We love to put on a show like this for young kids to show off their hard work and dedication,” McGaugh said.
The members of the fraternity also set up a booth to sell hats and gloves to raise money for a memorial scholarship honoring former member Justin “Juice” McBee, who died in an automobile accident Thanksgiving Day 2003. The group will award two $500 scholarships to two male freshmen entering the field of agriculture.
Friends and family began “Juice Club” this past year to continue McBee’s legacy of helping youth learn sportsmanship and grooming skills.
“Everything the Juice Club stands for is what Justin stood for,” said Mallory Trosper, one of the club’s organizers.
The club will select five 12- to 18-year-old 4-H or FFA students to receive a heifer. The youths must agree to raise, show and support the heifer and return the first live calf to the club after weaning. The calves will later be given away.
Trosper said they want kids to learn this isn’t necessarily about winning, but about learning and becoming better at what they do.
“The club gives me a reason to be a part of what Justin was a part of,” said Joy McBee, Justin’s mom. “It helps me get through the tough stuff.”
The Alpha Gamma Rho Classic will continue with the steer show at 8 a.m. today Sixty classes of steers will be judged.