Promoting cattle in the ring, on the page

OLDS, Alta. — When Katie Songer enters the show ring as a volunteer or a participant, she brings with her years of experience.

Her family won the grand champion commercial heifer at the Olds Fall Classic livestock show earlier this fall but working with cattle at Lucky Springs Stock Farm at Rocky Mountain House, Alta. is just part of her resume.

A graphic artist based at Sylvan Lake, Alta., she started a new magazine called Top Stock at a time when traditional print media are struggling to survive.

Published four times a year, the three-year-old magazine publicizes cattle shows and junior events across Canada. Similar publications are common in the United States but there was little to compare with it in Canada.

“There are so many good cattle here and there is such a big junior scene and it was just bizarre that we did not have our own,” Songer said in an interview at the Olds show held in October.

There were early jitters when she released the first edition.

“People will tell me if it is worthwhile. If it is worth doing, I will get good feedback. If you don’t take a risk, you will never know,” she said.

Families work hard and she wanted to celebrate that effort when she introduced the magazine, which is available free at many events.

It also has a subscription base and an online presence.

“People still want to have a magazine that they can pick up,” Songer said. “The feedback is people still want it.”

She has assembled a team to write, photograph and sell advertising while she handles the design work and overall editorial policy.

She graduated from the Alberta College of Art with a major in design in 2007. She landed a job with a Calgary advertising agency but a year later decided to strike out on her own. These days half her clients are rural and the other half are urban businesses.

On the rural side, she creates sale catalogues, publicity, websites and other advertising needs.

Between times she exhibits and judges cattle and volunteers to help at shows.

“When I think back about all the volunteers that I probably didn’t thank as a junior, it is a little way to give back,” she said.

While she stands in the ring, she watches juniors exhibitors who are rising stars that could be featured in her magazine. She works to keep the stories objective while also celebrating rural life.

“What’s important is who you met at the show, not who won the show,” she said.

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