3rd Annual Columbia Basin Fitting & Showing Challenge in the books!

Three years ago, my friend Jackie, my husband Chris and myself started a little event to teach the dairy 4H & FFA kids in our area how to fit and show their dairy projects.  It was a very long one day event that saw about twenty kids leave full of enthusiasm and joy.  Even we left the fairgrounds that day feeling completely satisfied and thrilled at what a success it turned out to be!  So we thought we would do it again, but make it last a little longer, round up some even better prizes and try to cram even more information into the eager minds that would attend.  Once again, a huge success, with even more kids in attendance and the coolest part was seeing the improvements that kids from the previous year had made!  So going for year three was a no brainer! 
Then stumbled into a pretty big road block.  I’ll spare you the details because this post is not going to be about how some fairgrounds have no interest in supporting agricultural events and aiding in the development of 4-H and FFA members.  This post is about the4-H and FFA members who want what agriculture has to offer in their lives.

A change of location brought us into the Yakima Valley, an area of Washington home to the largest dairy population in the State.  However, the number of  registered herds and youth involved in showing dairy animals is probably the lowest.  We found ourselves at the Grandview Fairgrounds, like many old fairgrounds, the place had its own unique charm revealing the love and care poured into the old livestock barns over years gone by.  Being in a new-to-us facility, in a new-to-us area might have been a bit intimidating at first, but new faces were introduced and soon new friends were made!
By noon on Friday there were 18 4-H’ers scrubbing their heifers and organizing their own little pack and tack areas.  We had kids come as far as Lewis and King Counties and others who lived just minutes away.  Our numbers were down quite a bit, but it was obvious that each individual in attendance was more than keen to be there and to learn!  We had kids with varying experience levels, some just there to help out, others on a mission to claim the coveted belt buckle as their own and others there to just learn and build on their technique.

Prizes were offered to the top show-person in the Junior, Intermediate and Senior classes and then an overall winner was selected from the top two in each age division.  Our winners in these classes were as follows:
Junior – Lauryn Young from Lewis County
Intermediate – Kynon Meek from Lewis County
Senior – Rick Heslinga from King County

A top fitter was also selected from each age division, based on the individual who did the best job preparing their animal without help from others.  These went to the following individuals:
Junior – Lauryn Young from Lewis County
Intermediate – Brooklon Struikmans from Yakima County
Senior – Rick Heslinga from King County

We also awarded a prize to the individual demonstrating strong sportsmanship, this went to Jenna Andringa of Yakima County.

Our event would not have been possible without the support from local businesses and the volunteers who came to make this the best experience possible for all of these kids!  Straw was donated by a local dairy farmer (the Geertsma dairy) and saw dust was donated by Simplot Western Stockmans of Sunnyside.  Friday evening, the kids enjoyed a “scavenger hunt” organized by Jessica Oliver – with several stations that pushed the kids to work in teams and do a little problem solving and skill testing!  A pizza dinner was then later provided by the generosity of All West Select Sires and all the milk those kids could drink was courtesy of Darigold.
Breakfast on Saturday morning was donated by the women of the Columbia Basin Dairy Wives and lunch later on in the day was provided by David Andringa and Animal Health International.  The winners of the showmanship classes and then also the top fitter in each age category received prizes, sponsored by CRV and any other expenses were covered by the Columbia & Inland Holstein Club.

A great big shout out to all those who were involved in making this event the success that it was.  From the kids in attendance to the parents who encouraged their children to the volunteers, the businesses and the organizations who stepped up to make our Third Annual Columbia Basin Fitting and Showing Challenge what it was!

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