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Livestock show is about more than just animals | Events

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Livestock show is about more than just animals
Livestock show is about more than just animals


The sounds of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs are echoing through the buildings of the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds this week. The 78th Junior Livestock Show is in full swing.

Fluttering around the sounds of the farm is the sound of old friends re-connecting and new friendships being made. On the outside, the junior show appears to be all about the animals, but it is a cornucopia of smiles from hardworking kids and proud parents, sharp dressed cowgirls and cowboys with their perfectly trimmed steers, sheep wearing spandex and gleaming white goats looking for their next mouthful of alfalfa.

The Junior Show draws families from all across eastern Washington, north Idaho and western Montana.

“It's kind of a family tradition. My wife showed sheep and her dad before her,” said Eric Keller.

He and his wife have four children and raise sheep on their Deer Park ranch. Keller says the farm life is a way of life, one that helps build a strong foundation for their life.

“I like that it teaches them responsibility,” said Keller. “They have to work. It's not an option. We get up at 5:30 and feed the animals before school and work.”

16 year-old Emma Keller has shown sheep at the Junior Show since she 5 years old.

“I like the aspect of having the responsibility of raising something from when it's a baby to the time it's full grown,” said Emma as she trimmed and primped her lamb, Tweedle-Dee.

For many of the kids, the Junior Show is the end of something special. For them, the animals are very much like pets but most are market animals. That means, when the show is over, the kids go home and animals enter the great circle of life.

“You get attached to them,” said Emma.

For the Kellers, selling the animals is a way of providing a future.

“It's our kids' college fund,” said Keller. He figures Tweedle-Dee will sell for around $300.

While kids hustle around cleaning stalls, watering and feeding their animals, parents enjoy what makes the Junior Show so special.

“We get to see people we see once or twice a year,” said Keller. “Our kids have grown up with their kids. It's almost like a second family.”

Everywhere you look there are people enjoying the atmosphere and enjoying each other. Smiles abound. The kids and parents are always happy to talk about their animals.

10 year-old Amy Farley brought two Angus-cross steers to the show this year. During the show she will guide the nearly 1,100 pound animal in front of judges. She will demonstrate her knowledge of the steer and it will also be graded.

It's quite a sight to see a little girl, out-weighed by more than a thousand pounds, walk a steer into the show ring.

“He headbutts me sometimes,” said Amy with a twinkle in her eye. “I have to whack him on the nose with a show stick.”

In another stall, 14 year old Blake McLean of Post Falls shows his 8 year-old cousin Cole Cooper how to trim a steers' tail with a pair of house-hold scissors. It's all a part of a family tradition that's handed down from generation to generation.

If you'd like the visit the Junior Livestock show, it runs through Sunday, May 5th. Admission is free.


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