Alberta sale puts youth in spotlight

OLDS, Alta. — An annual spring event in Olds may be the best deal around for kids who like to show cattle.

Canada’s richest Youth Steer and Heifer Show has offered thousands of dollars in scholarships and prizes since it started five years ago.

The show attracts youth younger than 21 from across Alberta, and ranges from those who have never led a calf in the ring to seasoned teenagers anxious to build their college funds.

It’s not just the money that draws the youngsters: the skills and experience gained over the weekend are also benefits. Show rules keep eager and well meaning parents in the background, said Karen Kent, one of the organizers.

“Anyone under 21 can touch and fit. Anyone over 21 can only touch the halter and the tail,” she said.

“You want to keep it a family event, but you want to keep it safe.”

That attitude was a change for judge Jeff Jackson of Walnut Springs, Texas.

Large steer shows offering major jackpots are the norm in the United States and it is not uncommon for professionals to groom the cattle and turn them over to the en-trants just before entering the show ring.

“Compared to Texas kids, these kids are doing a better job,” he said.

Some Texas shows draw 1,200 to 1,500 head, and even though the youth are supposed to do their own work, it is hard to control, he said.

This year’s grand heifer winner was Jade Ann Schneider of Ardrossan, with a black Angus female.

She received $1,500 in cash, a belt buckle, a $500 donor flush package and other prizes.

The reserve was Cassidy Matthews of Olds, who earned $1,000.

The grand champion was a Hereford entered by Dakota Townsend of Sylvan Lake, who received $2,500, a belt buckle and a $250 semen package.

The reserve was Chase Miller of Cremona, who earned $1,000 and other prizes.

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