Each year the prizes get bigger and better for young people entering their livestock at the Calgary Stampede.
Four young people showing cattle and sheep walked away with thousands of dollars in cash and scholarships as part of the Stampede livestock youth program. In total, $160,000 was on offer.
Cody LaFrentz of Bienfait, Sask., took the big prize when his black steer won the junior steer classic held July 15. In total, he received $17,000 in cash and scholarship money. He owns a half interest in the steer, which was purchased in Oklahoma.
LaFrentz is studying animal science with a business option at Kansas State University and has come to the end of his junior career.
“Winning commercial steers has been a goal for my brother and I. Being my last year this is a good way to go out,” he said.
Preparing the show steers takes months of training at home in hopes of earning some big money.
“Coming here and watching other people get their cattle ready has really helped me develop,” he said.
“Every time you may not be successful, but at the end of the day you keep coming back and hopefully one of these years you can get the big one before you are too old,” he said.
“If you don’t, it is something that helps you build up your work ethic and being professional and being an all-round good person,” he said.
At the end of the show, the steer was auctioned off for $20,000 with the proceeds going to the Stampede foundation to support further youth programs.
During the week of Stampede held July 6-15, a youth component called Summer Synergy is run at Olds, north of Calgary. Young people are invited to participate in a week of showmanship, clinics and fun activities. The Alberta 4-H sheep show is held in conjunction with the program, which focuses on agriculture education and the chance to win scholarships and other prizes.
The show finale is held on the last day of Stampede where supreme champions are selected.
The supreme purebred beef award went to Wyatt Bradford, 13, of Eckville, Alta., with a black Simmental pair. He raised the heifer calf at side. This is the first big win of his life and ironic because his family runs about 300 purebred Angus cows.
“The judge said he really loved my cow so it gave me some hope I had a shot at it,” he said.
Bailey Wauters of Wrentham, Alta., won the commercial supreme beef award. A nursing student who graduates next year, this is her last year in junior competitions.
The cow is a Simmental and the heifer calf was the champion Maintainer. Bailey won the commercial supreme prize last year with a daughter of the six-year-old Simmental cow she showed this year.
Emma Gingras, brought her lambs to Calgary for the first time and had nearly a clean sweep in the sheep show. Her yearling ewe was named supreme.
“I have been very lucky these last few years with my flocks,” she said.
She has won grand championships at the club level, as well as at 4-H on Parade, Canada’s largest 4-H regional show.
A city girl who moved to a farm southeast of Calgary at the age of seven, she joined 4-H after a neighbour recommended it. An animal lover, she wanted to gain confidence and found the movement improved her social skills.
“I am really happy I got into 4-H. I was super shy and I would never talk to anyone, but now I have the confidence to do that,” she said.
Now 18, she is enrolled at the University of Lethbridge where she plans to study agricultural biotechnology and later enroll in veterinary school.