Fair queen runner-up lends a pink, manicured hand

Sunday, July 29, 2007 | 4:34 p.m. CDT; updated 5:42 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The open beef breeding and steer show at the Boone County Fair had a set of pink, manicured hands helping out in the ring Saturday.

Brittany Asbury, 20, was the second runner-up Boone County Fair Queen. She was dressed in pleated, white pants and a black halter top with white polka dots. She was also wearing her sparkling crown and white sash. She looked delicate and beautiful, except she was standing in the middle of the small cattle ring, directing steers.

“I have been in a cattle ring since I was about 6 years old,” Asbury said. “They were short-handed today, and it’s kinda like second nature to me.”

The pageant winners try to appear at all the events during the fair to present ribbons and trophies, pageant queen Sarah Carlisle said. Carlisle and the first runner-up stood by the exit gate with ribbons for the winners. But when Asbury saw that the show was short-handed, she took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and got to work. She described her role as an extra ring master who keeps order to the ring, helps with problems and pushes stubborn steers along to keep the show running smoothly.

Asbury was not afraid to get her hands dirty and handled the animals with authority. She was careful not to touch her outfit, though, as she stood with her hands flared out at her sides.

But she said she wouldn’t be too upset if they did get dirty because “clothes wash.”

Asbury has shown steers, Herefords, lambs and more. She also won the state livestock evaluation class at the Missouri State Fair — which means she was capable of judging the contest. But, instead, her friend Travis Arp, 21, was the judge.

Arp, from Wisconsin, has shown cattle before, and he has judged shows all over Missouri.

During a breeding cattle show, animals are broken into classes by breed and age. Arp took his time judging each contest, evaluating five or so contestants at a time. He walked around them and considered every angle and sometimes ran his hand along their back.

When Arp judges contests he said looks for the animals' structural soundness - how they walk- and the amount of muscle. For the females, he looks to see how well they can carry a calf. Consequently, the width of the hips is important. Arp also looks for a broad chest cavity, a square head and a good-looking cow overall.

The judging opened with steer classes.

“I’ve seen some extremely high-quality steers here today,” Arp said. “I’m impressed.”

He must have been impressed with the steer entered by Brianne Abramovitz, 15. He selected it as a grand champion.

“At first I thought that I was getting last,” Abramovitz said. “He lined us up from last to first, and it’s usually done from first to last.”

Her Maine-Anjoy steer, named Black, won her a purple ribbon and $45.

Abramovitz was beaming with pride, but she was also preparing for other classes. She had two more animals to show later on.

Abramovitz hopes to attend MU.

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