Showing at the fair

The Webster County Fair beef exhibition ended with shocked silence and tears of concern Friday.

During the intermediate showmanship presentation, Justin Koester, 13, was knocked down and kicked by his steer.

Koester was taken away by ambulance from the livestock arena. The injuries were not serious, Linda Cline, Webster County 4-H youth coordinator said, and Koester is expected to recover.

“We did have an incident here with a young man who was injured in the show. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” Jerry Chizek, Iowa State University Extension office education director, said. “Our concern is always the young people of 4-H and FFA. They’re the end of the halter that we’re the most concerned with. Cattle will come and go, but our young people, we want to go ahead and make sure they have a successful day.”

The county fair experience is the culmination of a year of learning for the 4-H and FFA youths, Cline said.

“By doing different exhibits at the fair, it teaches them about goals. Those 4-H’ers are setting goals during the beginning of the year and maybe even today, and revaluating themselves and they’re bringing it to competition,” she said. “The kids are learning those life-long skills.”

Matt Johnson, beef show judge, said the day offered excellent examples of steers and heifers.

“The market animal show I thought was really competitive and they had really good numbers. The breeding heifers, really good top end, just not the depth,” he said. “But it’s a really high quality show in general, compared to some of the other counties around the state.”

There are specific qualities Johnson looks for when evaluating beef.

“A lot of it has to do with compositional correctness, which is the ratio of muscle to fat. So I’m looking for a steer that has a heavy enough carcass, they’re at their ultimate endpoint,” he said. “Also, we look for a little more showroom look, because it is a cattle show and we want them to be attractive, yet sound enough in their structure to be able to walk around the ring with ease and fluidity.”

It was not the first time the show judge had seen an incident like the one on Friday.

“Some stuff like that happens when you’re dealing with larger animals,” Johnson said. “The whole incident was obviously very scary, but it looked to me as if nobody was seriously injured.”

Inside East Auditorium, the youths submitted their flowers and arrangements for horticulture judging.

The showings this year were excellent, Loretta Daisy, show judge, said.

“I’ve done the flower show off and on for a few years, and from when I first started, I find there’s been an awful lot of improvement with the kids,” Daisy said. “They are doing really well. They’re paying attention to how they have it displayed, how the container is clean and the water is clean.”

Here, too, there are certain qualities the judge looks for in the youths’ flowers.

“We look for freshness of the flower, making sure there is no damage to either the flower part or stems. We saw a couple of leaves there that had been bitten,” Daisy said. “We look for straight stems. Just, basically overall good condition.”

The Webster County Fair continues today with a barbecue cook-off, open glass garden show, antique tractor pull, and the 4-H horse show.