September 26, 2022 at 6:27 p.m.

Sisters share passion for dairy

Bue, Stetzer team up to judge Central Wisconsin State Fair
Carla Stetzer (left) and Katie Bue evaluate Oliver Andres’ senior doe in the dairy goat show Aug. 24 at the Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield, Wisconsin.  PHOTO BY DANIELLE NAUMAN
Carla Stetzer (left) and Katie Bue evaluate Oliver Andres’ senior doe in the dairy goat show Aug. 24 at the Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield, Wisconsin. PHOTO BY DANIELLE NAUMAN

By Danielle Nauman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

MARSHFIELD, Wis. – Growing up on their family’s Milking Shorthorn dairy farm, sisters Katie Bue and Carla Stetzer have always been involved in showing dairy cattle and in dairy judging.
“Anything to do with dairy cattle seems to largely come from passion,” Stetzer said. “Unfortunately, the numbers are dwindling, so for me it is important to keep the kids excited and help them grow that passion for the dairy industry.”
The two sisters teamed up to judge the Central Wisconsin State Fair junior show Aug. 24 in Marshfield. Stetzer placed the Holstein, Red and White Holstein, and Ayrshire classes; while Bue placed the Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Jersey, Milking Shorthorn and the any other breed classes. The two conferred for the selection of supreme champions and the winners of the bred and owned awards.
“We see the cows a lot the same,” Stetzer said. “We can have natural, easy discussions that are very open and honest about our opinions.”
The sisters from Hixton had only judged together for one show prior to the CWSF.  
“The first time, we were just chatting about what we had coming up and realized we were both judging the southeast Minnesota youth show,” Bue said. “Luckily we had talked, so that we could drive together.”
Bue and her husband, Charlie, along with their children, Kyra and Tanner, operate Wide Open Farm near Hixton where they milk 35 registered Holsteins and Milking Shorthorns. Stetzer works as a program specialist for CentralStar Cooperative. She lives near Alma Center with her husband, Dan, and their three sons, Jay, Drew and Sean; they raise show heifers at Game Day Farm.
Both Bue and Stetzer grew up participating in the 4-H dairy project in Jackson County and attended many dairy judging practices and contests before they each attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where they were members of the school’s judging team.
Stetzer dove into judging shows soon after her graduation, while Bue said she took longer following graduation to begin judging shows.
“I was more hesitant,” Bue said. “It took me a while to jump out of my comfort zone and start judging shows.”
Both sisters said judging youth shows is a highlight for them.
“I really enjoy working with the kids,” Bue said. “I like to see them take pride in the work they have done.”
Stetzer agreed.
“I try to make being in the show ring lighthearted and fun,” Stetzer said. “I don’t want the kids to feel stressed or nervous about showing their animals.”
Both Stetzer and Bue typically judge three shows a year.
“It is something that I enjoy doing, and I don’t want to lose that joy by being overbooked,” Stetzer said.
Both Bue and Stetzer have served as the associate judge for the World Dairy Expo International Milking Shorthorn Show. Bue was the associate for Lynn Harbaugh in 2013 while Stetzer was Brian Behnke’s associate in 2018.
Bue recalls making Lands-Brook Christina EXP grand champion of the show in 2013.
“That is something I will never forget; Christina finally winning after being reserve champion so many times,” Bue said. “As a life-long Milking Shorthorn breeder, that was really a special moment.”
Bue also recalled a 2-year old who had a rough trip traveling to the big dance.
“Peter Cate had a senior 2-year-old that I thought would be quite a cow some day, but she hadn’t taken the trip from New Hampshire well at all,” Bue said. “I had her way down the line. I told Peter I really liked his cow, but that just wasn’t her day.”
That cow’s day did indeed come a couple of years later. Cates Ruben Tulsa Time EXP won the breed’s Triple Crown challenge, winning three national show championships in a year, not once, but twice.
Stetzer recalls the cow she and Behnke selected for grand champion with a smile too.
“Maple Fudge of 12 Oaks was our champion cow,” Stetzer said. “That was a great story, too, and having her come out as our champion was really awesome.”
Stetzer said Maple Fudge was purchased by junior member Ashley Brandel as a calf at the Wisconsin Dairyland Milking Shorthorn sale. Added to that, Maple Fudge is sired by a bull that Stetzer and Bue’s father sold.
After all of their judging experiences, the sisters have some advice to would-be judges.
“You have to be strictly yourself,” Stetzer said. “You can’t worry about pleasing anyone but yourself. Start with smaller shows to build your confidence. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and critique what the judge is doing in the middle of the ring, but going out and doing it is another thing.”
Both sisters agreed that the prospect of giving reasons on the microphone can be daunting.
“Keep your reasons short and simple,” Stetzer said. “Once the animal is past you, stop talking about her. Just be done and move on to the next animal.”
Bue agreed. She said she likes to take the time to go down the line, talking to each exhibitor about their animal.
“Showing is a lot of time, work and money,” Bue said. “Each exhibitor deserves to know what I was thinking about their animal.”
Most importantly, both Bue and Stetzer said if judging is an interest, do so.
“You have to start somewhere,” Bue said. “You just have to get out of your comfort zone and jump out there and do it.”


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