October 27, 2022 at 7:01 p.m.
“Raising our kids to be competitive in the show ring is about so much more than just the competing,” said Lynn Harbaugh. “Our kids are learning responsibility, work ethic and about the circle of life.”
Lynn and his wife, Sara, along with friends Kurt and Sarah Loehr and Chad and Amy Ryan all grew up showing registered dairy cattle. Now as adults, they enjoy spending their time exhibiting cattle together with their children: Jacob, Logan and Madison Harbaugh; Adella and Ainsley Loehr; and Dylan and Cameron Ryan.
The three families work together throughout the year and own many animals in various partnerships. The Loehrs house milk cows owned by both the Harbaughs and Ryans, who in return house and prepare a variety of show heifers.
Each year, the trio of families can be found working together at shows, including spring and summer state-level shows, and at World Dairy Expo.
“It can definitely be a balancing act; keeping up with all of the kids’ interests while making sure things get done with the show animals,” Sarah said.
This year, the three families celebrated a variety of successes with a bevy of banners and medals Oct. 2-7 during WDE in Madison.
Three heifers from the show string returned to the show ring for Friday evening’s supreme champion ceremonies, one in the open show and three in the junior show. Another heifer was named the best bred and owned heifer in the International Junior Holstein Show. Earlier in the week, Cameron topped the junior division of the youth showmanship contest, while Logan placed third in the intermediate division.
Growing up learning the ropes of competing in the dairy cattle show ring has taught the group of young dairy enthusiasts many life lessons.
“I have had so many networking opportunities and have met so many people showing, especially here at Expo,” said Jacob, a sophomore. “People see you working hard, and it makes an impression with them. It is a way to start making those connections you will need in the future.”
The oldest of the group of young exhibitors, Jacob has been able to take on a teaching and mentoring role with the younger members of the group.
“I have been able to learn that years of hard work will pay off,” Jacob said, as he was preparing to take his Brown Swiss heifer out for the parade of champions. “It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. I am able to help teach that lesson to my brother and sister and to Adella, Ainsley, Dylan and Cameron.”
The atmosphere that accompanies a show like WDE is a draw for Logan.
“It is such a fun place to be,” he said. “Everyone here loves doing the same thing. We all work hard all year long taking care of our animals. Then we come here, spend time together with friends and do what we love doing: showing on the colored shavings.”
For Cameron, soaking up the success is something he focused on.
“This year has probably been a once-in-a-lifetime experience – winning showmanship and then being able to show under the spotlights for supreme champion,” Cameron said. “I just want to really let it all sink in and enjoy the moment.”
Dylan shared his brother’s enthusiasm.
“Being successful in the dairy industry comes from a lot of hard work,” he said. “If you put the work in, you can accomplish a lot. Whether it is showing, or dairy judging or learning how to clip. The harder you work at it, the better you will be at it.”
Watching both his dad and Lynn serve as judges at WDE, Dylan said he has set a goal for himself to one day don a tuxedo in the center of the colored shavings.
The art of perseverance has been one of Madison’s take-aways from exhibiting dairy cattle.
“Sometimes things don’t always go the way you think they will,” Madison said. “You just can’t ever give up, even when your heifer is being very stubborn and not behaving.”
Adella got to take her first turn about the colored shavings during the International Red and White Show, and she said she is hooked. Her spring calf named Mambo finished fifth in the class and was the third-place junior-exhibited entry.
“I just focused on what I needed to do,” Adella said. “I want to be able to do this until I am not able to do it anymore. I am guessing that I will be pretty old when that happens.”
After watching her sister win a medal with the calf she has been showing all year, 7-year-old Ainsley is anxiously awaiting her ninth birthday that will allow her the chance to experience what the other kids have been getting to do.
“I like going up to the coliseum and having friends I can go watch the shows with,” Ainsley said. “I got to show Mamba at state show this year, and I liked doing that. I can’t wait to be able to show a calf here at Expo.”
Watching their daughters have a taste of success on the colored shavings was the highlight of the show for the Loehrs.
“For me, it is about giving our girls opportunities that I myself never had,” Kurt said. “Adella and Ainsley are getting the chance to learn from kids who are great role models and friends. These kids are all growing up like brothers and sisters. They spend a lot of time intermingling. It is like an extended family.”
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