The Albany County Fair, hosted July 23 through Aug. 3, is an opportunity for young people to work with their hands, spend time in the warm summer weather and improve their skills before they go back to sitting in desks for nine months. With so many different categories of competition, Albany County’s youth can pick what suits them.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for leadership and people skills,” exhibitor Kelsey Crane said concerning Beef Showmanship.

Crane competed in the senior division of 4-H Market Beef Showmanship on Tuesday afternoon at the Albany County Fairgrounds. Crane got her cow Gus in October and has cared for it ever since. She and Gus made it to the grand drive, which is equivalent to going to the finals. Before the grand drive, there were three heats for the senior division.

Seventeen individuals ages 14-18 participated in the senior division of Beef Showmanship. The grand champion was Saige Ward, and the reserve champion was Alexis Lake.

The judge for Beef Showmanship was Amanda Decker of Wellington, Colorado. She used to be very competitively involved in 4-H and FFA Beef Showmanship.

Decker said in Beef Showmanship, one of the greatest compliments an exhibitor can receive is the judge did not notice the exhibitor, only his or her cow. The contestants are judged on the appearance of the cow, showing the cow and the appearance and merits of the exhibitor.

When spectators watch Beef Showmanship, it may appear to be only a bunch of children leading their cows around a ring, but that is far from the truth. There are many specifics to Beef Showmanship, including where the exhibitor’s hand is on the cow’s halter and how far apart the cow’s feet are when standing still. Attention to detail and practice is key.

Crane explained she and many other exhibitors started working with their cows in March to prepare for fair at the end of July. Crane was not nervous to show her cow because she has done Beef Showmanship so many times.

“It’s a really good way to show you know your animal,” grand champion Ward said concerning Beef Showmanship.

Ward shows a year-old cow named Denali. Ward said one of the reasons she participates in Beef Showmanship is to “advocate for the industry, one show at a time.”

Crane and Ward both mentioned Beef Showmanship is a good opportunity to learn how to talk with people.

Decker asked the participants two questions at the end of judging. The first was what the exhibitor would change. The second question was about major global or weather impacts on the beef industry.

Decker applauded Ward and Lake because of how prepared they were for the questions, especially the second one. She said it is important to be knowledgeable about the beef industry, especially for beef showmen.