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Sharon, Jenna, Nathan Spangler with cow
FAMILY: It’s OK to pick your grandma if you’re judging her showmanship class, right? Grandma Sharon Spangler, shown here with grandchildren Jenna and Nathan Spangler, took home the big prize.

Spanning decades in a single show ring

What happens when you start a Senior Citizen Showmanship contest — and let the kids judge it? In our experience, some priceless family memories.

Ever get an idea, and it’s so good that it snowballs into a whole other good idea?

That’s exactly what happened at our county fair. On a whim in 2018, beef superintendents launched the first-ever Vintage Showmanship contest. It was a make-up-the-rules-as-we-go rousing success, so they did it again this year. Then, based on a whole lot of interest from grandmas and grandpas, they added another class: Senior Citizen Showmanship, for the 65-plus set. It was every bit as nerve-wracking and heartwarming as you might imagine.

The grandmas and grandpas rolled into the ring, leading the calves vetted by their families as most tame and least likely to break an artificial hip. Or knee. I’m here to tell you, those folks were grinning from ear to ear. My mother-in-law and her sister shared the ring, each with a calf, for the first time in decades. I’m guessing they started showing together at that fair some 70 years ago.

And the judges? No less than the teenage showmanship winners, who happened to be two pairs of siblings. My kids made up one of the pairs.

Those grandparents weren’t the only ones grinning from ear to ear. Getting to judge the parents and grandparents is now the most prestigious prize for winning senior showmanship.

In the end, the sibling judges huddled up, walked out and proudly picked their grandmas as co-winners. Friends, you’ve hardly seen happier grandmas. And kids. And every person in the bleachers.

Emma, Cathy, Kyle Eathington
ALL SMILES: Grandma Cathy Eathington got the winning handshake from the judges — her grandchildren Emma and Kyle Eathington.

This is the life, isn’t it? Agriculture, thanks to 4-H and FFA and county fairs, gives kids and parents and grandparents the opportunity to span decades and share an experience. To show in the same ring. To cheer for each other and to make a memory that’ll last a lifetime.

Now that’s a good idea.

Comments? Email holly.spangler@farmprogress.com.

TAGS: 4H FFA Livestock
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