Show business gets in your blood


In the musical Annie Get Your Gun, the lead character belts out the lyrics to There’s No Business Like Show Business. The key message is that folks in show biz stick together.

And so it is for all of us as we just finished the last major dairy cattle show. The final curtain has closed on the 2013 season of notable moments and cows of all breeds.

Just like Annie in her show, I too would like to craft a few words of appreciation for the business of showing cows. It would be difficult to measure it on economics alone, so I will concentrate on the less tangible elements.


From county and state fairs to the Pennsylvania All American, onto the grounds of World Dairy Expo, to the final act of Kentucky’s North American, the show ring stage of tan bark brought together the real folks who hail bovine beauty.

It’s more than a beauty pageant, but a destination where we cling to talks of those who win, place, or show. With conversations of ownerships that change and the new partnerships created, we cannot resist some gossip on the dollars exchanged. We judge in the straw, at the wash rack, ringside, and everywhere in between.

Associations important

Where would we be without the breed associations as they play a very important role. They strive to provide unity and direction and chaos would exist without them. It is a symbiotic relationship that binds us all.
Each of the major shows claims to be the largest and best. Without a doubt, they are all accurate.

Within each show’s time frame, there are judging contests, showmanship events, trade shows, educational opportunities, awards presented, and time to socialize at any level of involvement.

Each has a similar mix of clippers and fitters, breeders and marketers, coveralls and suits. Everyone has an acting part in the multiple layers of the major production.

We are all vagabonds of the tanbark in pursuit of a perfect cow or heifer at the greatest show on earth. The energy and enthusiasm of show day can earn us the beauty of a blue or a lesson in humility.

Looking ahead

Now that the trailers are unpacked and show boxes stored away, we walk into our home barns and look for a September wean calf that could dance at the end of a show halter in 2014. We even anticipate heifers yet to be born in December and March from some special mating.

Hope springs eternal with a promising, straight lined heifer that looks good underneath as her due date approaches. The next show season is cultivated in our barns, our breed publications, and those winter dairy meetings.
As an educator, a judging coach, an exhibitor, and a fan of the show ring, it is exciting to view the season from all perspectives.

I am often asked what show is my favorite. I just smile, with a twinkle in my eye, and honestly answer….”the next one.”
Let’s see, my calendar says that the Fort Worth Stock Show is only nine weeks away. But who’s counting.


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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.



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