Annual 4H event was held on Saturday, January 21
By Jack Criss
The Bolivar Bullet
The young people associated with the Bolivar County Livestock Association who participated in last Saturday’s annual 4H Livestock Show at the Bolivar County Expo Multipurpose Complex not only gained knowledge about farm animals and the work involved in caring for and showing them–they also gained self-esteem and pride. It’s a passion many of them have had their whole lives, passed down from their parents.
“We’re associated with the 4H program here in Bolivar,” said Brady Pate, speaking on behalf of the Association. “And, every year we show pigs and heifers, but we give the kids a chance to show all kinds of other animals, likes goats, rabbits and so on. I, along with most every other parent whose children comes out to show, grew up doing this ourselves and we appreciate passing down the love of raising and taking care of these animals and getting them ready for showtime and the market. And it’s great for them to participate.
“The president of our Association is Dr. Tim Lloyd, a local veterinarian, who grew up showing himself,” said Pate. “His kids have gone through our programs over the years including his youngest daughter, Emmie, who showed at this year’s event as well as previous ones.”
Four families participated in this year’s show who had children showing their animals. And, two of those youngsters find an extra special meaning in the event.
“One young man, Wyatt Kurts–who is 13 years old–has spina bifida and has to show from a wheelchair,” said Pate. “And what’s amazing is how Wyatt can grab the halter of the cow–after his father has to put it on–and lead her to the showroom. The cow becomes a totally different animal with him. It’s simply unbelievable because it’s as if she senses that Wyatt has a disability and she becomes very calm and gentle and doesn’t try to run away. That’s not typical at these types of shows–cows can get upset very easily. They’re not tame. And yet Wyatt has developed a type of partnership or rapport with his cow– it’s amazing.”
And Pate’s own son, 11 year-old Mabry, showed on Saturday which was special for him as a father. “You never want to goad your child to do anything they don’t want to do,” said Pate, “and we had started getting a little pushback from Mabry about participating. It turns out that my son was dealing with severe anxiety, which makes it difficult to do a lot of things that most of us take for granted. But, much like the case with Wyatt, when Mabry went ahead and partnered with his animal, he was fine. He can get in front of people, do the show, and not feel uncomfortable at all. Leading up to presenting he gets anxious about it–but once the showing starts he’s a different young man–all because of the interaction with his animal.”
Pate said he has talked with a number of parents over the years and that those who have kids dealing with any kind of issue, like Wyatt or Mabry, see animal showing as a kind of therapy. “This is not easy work and a lot of time and effort goes into getting ready for a show,” said Pate. “But giving young people the responsibility of doing that, getting prepared and putting in all that needs to be done, really gives them a self-esteem boost at the shows. They can say, ‘I did this,’ and it gives them a sense of pride.”
In the Bolivar County Livestock Association, Dr. Lloyd and his wife, Jennifer, have seen their children place at various events over the years, said Pate, “and my son placed third last year here at our show in Cleveland for his Mississippi-bred Hampshire cow, missing the Sale of Champions by one slot, and the Meyer’s family has two children that show who have done really well. We’re very proud of our young folks and the work they have put into doing the best they can with their animals.”
Pate said if you missed the Expo in Cleveland this year, there will be two more coming up soon in the Delta: Wednesday, January 25th, in Greenwood–starting at 8:00 a.m. — and then on Feb. 1 – 3 in Jackson at the Dixie National Rodeo Show. “We’ll all be at these events, including our six kids,” said Pate, “and hope people can come out to see us.”