While many livestock show banners hang from the metal barn walls at the Anderson farmstead, Garrett and Rylee Anderson have their favorites.
“In 2018, I was reserve overall in the state of Colorado for our swine show circuit. I was second highest in the points,” says Garrett, the now 17-year-old who is a member of the Chillicothe FFA Chapter. He not only has a banner hanging for the honor, but also won a topper for the family truck, which is used to transport his show animals.
For his younger sister, Rylee, favorites are from the year she won both junior sheep and goat showmanship at the Colorado State Fair. “Either that or my all-around showmanship at the county fair,” the 14-year-old adds.
The Andersons will be bringing their livestock show skills to the Missouri State Fair for the first time this year. The siblings were selected for a Missouri State Fair Foundation First-time Exhibitor Grant for the 2021 fair.
“Our mission as a foundation is cultivating the future of agriculture,” explains Wendy Loges, executive director of the Missouri State Fair Foundation. “Agriculture is the lifeblood of the state fair, and youth livestock exhibitors are at the core of the fair’s existence. With fewer individuals actively engaged in agriculture, we wanted to do something that would encourage more young people to show livestock."
So, the foundation developed the grant program to help offset the costs for young livestock exhibitors and their families. Loges says it is a way for the foundation to “seed the next generation of state fair exhibitors.”
Passion for livestock show circuit
The Andersons are new to the state of Missouri. They moved from Colorado to the Chillicothe area in January. But the siblings were not leaving their desire to be involved in showing swine, sheep and goats out West.
They two have been in the show ring for most of their lives. Garrett started showing hogs 11 years ago. His sister started with sheep, then added goats and finally hogs. Between the two, they exhibit different breeds of hogs, including Berkshire, Poland China, and Duroc, as well as crossbreds. The hogs are a combination of barrows and gilts.
While they do show Boer market goats, when it comes to sheep, that is all Rylee. “My favorite thing is showmanship, especially with sheep,” she explains. “I’ve had sheep my entire time, and there is just something about them. I just love showing lambs.”
But it is not all about the competition. The two agree that there is a lot of work behind the scenes before they enter the arena. “I think it’s made us learn a lot of responsibility,” Rylee says. She notes they must pay attention to detail and be prepared when caring for their animals. For that, the two use a large whiteboard in the barn to track feeding requirements and timing for all species.
“It keeps us on a really tight schedule,” Garrett adds. All the work pays off, not just with winning livestock but by expanding their show stock family connections.
“It’s nice to meet new people at each show,” Rylee explains. “We have people to talk to and friends to hang out with. I think it just makes the experience better for everyone.”
Garrett adds, “Having that many people that I know across the country, it’s like one big livestock family, and all those people mean something to me.”
Legacy of livestock showing
The Andersons were active in 4-H in Colorado and switched gears to FFA in Missouri. However, it was their parents who lit the passion for the livestock industry.
Brad and Lori Anderson grew up showing sheep and cattle in states like Kansas and Oklahoma. The couple also raised sheep in Colorado, at one point running roughly 400 head of ewes. The two offered their children a broader livestock exhibition experience by attending county and state fairs, but also traveling to the North American International Livestock Exhibition in Kentucky, Aksarben in Nebraska, the National Western Stock Show in Colorado and the American Royal in Kansas City.
Both Garrett and Rylee say they are excited to add this year’s Missouri State Fair to the list.