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Egypt Forrest, 12, of Luverne, gets a closer look at a goat before filling out her livestock judging card for the Rock County Fair livestock judging contest, new this year. (Alyssa Sobotka/The Globe)

MN county adapts livestock judging contest

LUVERNE, Minn. — Rock County, Minn., 4-Hers are getting a new perspective when it comes to livestock projects during this year’s Rock County Fair in Luverne.

For the first time, county youths have the opportunity to try their hand at livestock judging.

Rock County 4-H Program Coordinator Chelsey Asche said the informal livestock judging contest is an additional education opportunity for youths at this year’s fair.  

“It gets them to think a little bit more about their animal,” Asche said. “I think it’s a cool element that they get to see.”

The contest involves 4-H youths in the junior, intermediate and senior levels. To be eligible for a prize, contestants must judge the four animals in each general livestock species, beef, swine, goat and sheep. The four animals will be shown in the same class.

Animals are judged in the pens in their respective barns.  Participants must complete and submit their judging card prior to the start of each show.

“We’ve asked the official judge for each show to help with the contest,” Asche said.

A winner from each age group will be determined based on their evaluation of each species compared to the official results.

The winner from each age group will receive a $25 gift certificate to Sullivan Supply, donated by the Menke family.

Twelve-year-old Egypt Forrest spent a few minutes Thursday morning looking at the goats and filling out a judging card. She thought the contest was a good idea.

“It gets more people to walk through the barns,” she said.

Her father, Russell Forrest, agreed.

“We think that 4-H is the lifeblood of the fair,” he said. “(The livestock judging contest) gets more people involved.”

The livestock judging contest is not exclusive to 4-H participants.

Members of the general public are also encouraged to participate. Public participants do not have to judge each species.

Four winners, one for each species, will receive a $5 coupon to the food stand.

Rock County Extension Summer Intern Gabryelle Gilliam said with a large interest in livestock from county youths, she and Asche wanted to add a livestock judging contest to this year’s fair, but questioned the logistics of getting it accomplished.

They created the informal contest to allow kids to get some livestock judging exposure without dealing with the hassle of reserving a block of time in the show arena. 

“(Contestants) walk around with a group of friends and it takes them five minutes,” Gilliam said.

The adapted contest seems to be a hit.

“It’s going better than we’d thought,” Gilliam said. “We had to print more cards for (the contests).”

The swine judging contest had closed early Thursday morning before the official show. The contest drew 60 entries. The goat and sheep contests closed later Thursday afternoon. Contestants still have an opportunity to submit judging sheets prior to the 8 a.m. beef show Friday. 

Asche said she’s not yet sure what next year’s Rock County Fair livestock judging contest will look like.

“Maybe we’ll add more and make it a formal show or maybe this is just the perfect fit for the fair,” she said. “It’s not something that’s a lot of added work, but just something fun to make the conversations and have that educational element to it.”

The 2017 Rock County Fair continues through Saturday.

Beef, horse pleasure and pet shows are Friday. A new event, Xtreme bull riding, will begin at 7 p.m. and will include mutton busting. Antique tractors will make up a new parade at 8 p.m. Friday.

Kids can look forward to a 2 p.m. pedal tractor pull on Saturday.

The fair champions will get their moment in the spotlight at 6 p.m. Saturday during the 4-H parade of champions.

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