Tuning up for the show season

Youth fitting workshop debuts in Iowa

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    MANCHESTER, Iowa – Not every youth who shows dairy runs with the big leagues. That is the reason Bob Sadler envisioned the Spring Dairy Tune Up Fit and Show Workshop that took place at the Delaware County Fairgrounds May 14-15 in Manchester.
    Sadler, from West Union, put together an overnight event designed to help youth become better at training, fitting and showing their cattle. Jessi Lansing, of Garnavillo, and a committee of adults joined Sadler in lining up what they hope will be an annual event.
    “This was for the youth that can’t go to these big-time shows,” Sadler said. “They don’t have the premiere cattle. They might only show at the county fair or a smaller show. It was my goal to get something for those entry-level and above who have no one to teach them.”
    Sadler said he sees more and more youth who come from an acreage or live in town and have dairy projects with cattle shared by an active dairy farmer or heifer raiser.
    “So last fall at Cattle Congress (in Waterloo), I was talking with other show people, and we wanted to do this,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of these (workshops) out there that aren’t correlated with a show.”
    The workshop allowed youth to bring an animal, prepare it and show it, with coaching from accomplished adults. Mark Fisher, a professional fitter from Edgewood, provided the fitting portion of the workshop. Kaleb Kruse, of Petersburg, led the showmanship session.
    Fisher worked with one of his own animals as a demonstration, then sent participants back to fit their own animals, with himself and other adults assisting. The showmanship portion of the day with Kruse was also hands-on.
    “Kaleb is great in the way he works with kids,” Sadler said. “We had two of the older youth do a walkthrough while he talked, then we ran through a class just like a showmanship competition but with no placings.”
    An Iowa State University dairy specialist was also on hand along with a Select Sires representative who discussed genetics.
    While the committee had hoped for more participants, several traveled far to attend. One youth came from South Dakota and another from Illinois. A third was from southern Iowa with the remainder from more local areas.
    “It allowed for lots of one-on-one time,” said Sadler, who has spent most of his life around dairy and now helps his children show cattle and pursues other youth volunteer work when not focusing on his job with Fayette County Conservation.
    He and the committee envision growing participation by creating a traveling clinic. They have talked about moving south toward Coralville but could also hold the event in Waterloo or West Union to make it more accessible to Minnesota.
    Sponsorships allowed the event to be free for participants, and the workshop is registered as a non-profit. Because of the funding, participants received meals and a T-shirt. Most stayed overnight in the barn.
    Reviews of the workshop were positive, according to Sadler.
    “Parents loved it,” he said. “One drove six hours to attend, and said it was definitely worth the drive. I’m grateful to everyone involved – parents, sponsors, the crew that helped set it up. Things like this take everybody’s knowledge and everybody’s time.”

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