Behind the shows: Stark County 4-H’er already preparing for 2020 fair season

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A girl holds a halter and stands in front of a black market steer.
Addy Brenner, 16, stands with one of her market steer, Kolby, outside the barn. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

NORTH LAWRENCE, Ohio — Addy Brenner, 16, was scared the first time she showed a market steer as a 4-H project, in 2015. The steer was big, and at only 11, she wasn’t.

Now Addy is preparing to show a market steer at the Stark County Fair for the sixth time, in 2020. With years of experience under her belt, she isn’t afraid anymore. She knows farming and raising cattle is what she wants to do.

“Over the years, I’ve gotten more confident, in myself, and with showing animals,” she said. “I learned to be more calm and more patient with them.”

The fair isn’t until next September, over nine months away. The work that Addy and other 4-H’ers put in, however, starts now. Addy, a member of the Tusci Barnyard Hi-Steppers 4-H club, is already working with her two market steers and keeping careful records in her project book.

Market steer

The first weigh-in for Stark County 4-H’s market steer program was Dec. 7 at the fairgrounds. Addy, sporting a blonde ponytail and gray sweater, and her dad, Blake Brenner, arrived in a red truck pulling a long, silver trailer. Her boots hit the ground moments after the truck stopped when she got out to check on the steers in the trailer as they waited in line.

One of her steers, a Simmental named Kolby, she bought in July from Erv-N-Del Farm & Feed, in Louisville, where she also buys her feed. The other, a Shorthorn named Stetson, she bought in October from Agle Family Cattle, in South Vienna, through an online auction. A few days before the auction, she and her dad drove about two hours to South Vienna to see the calf.

“Every year, I buy locally and do well, but not the best I want to,” Addy explained.

She found the Agles’ farm through the American Shorthorn Association.

“I mean, everybody’s goal is to win,” Addy said.

A man hands the halter for a market steer to a girl.
Addy Brenner, 16, takes the halter for Stetson, one of her market steer, from Blake Brenner, her dad. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

Priorities

Her goal this year is to make it to the championship round in her market class. But there are other areas for her to shine.

“I think skillathon and showmanship matter more to me because it doesn’t matter what the cow looks like,” Addy said. “It’s just how much work you’ve put into it.”

In showmanship, 4-H’ers are judged based on how they handle their animals and how they answer questions from the judge about their projects. Addy plays basketball for Tuslaw High School and is in the middle of the season. Still, she is already working with her steer every day.

Skillathon is based on how 4-H’ers fill out their record books and their knowledge of their projects. Addy routinely places first or second in skillathon, Blake Brenner said.

“She’s meticulous,” he said.

Addy is also hoping to take her steer to some additional shows in the spring this year. In the past, she has only shown at the fair.

Weigh-in

Addy buys her steer each year with her 4-H earnings from the previous year, and her dad helps her cover the feed. They work with their feed supplier to make sure the calves get the right feed as they grow.

“I’ve gotten better at it, but I’m still learning,” Addy said.

At the weigh-in, after her dad and a committee member helped get Stetson off the trailer, Addy took the halter and led the reluctant steer to the scale.

Stetson weighed in at 560 pounds, while Kolby was 575 pounds — both about what Addy expected. She bought a scale for her steer in 2018, and she weighs them at home in the middle of the month so she can keep track of how they are growing. She and her dad try to guess what her steer will weigh in at every year.

A girl hands paperwork to two committee members sitting behind a table at the Stark County Fair's first market steer weigh-in.
Addy Brenner, 16, hands paperwork for her market steer to committee members at the first weigh-in for market steer at the Stark County fairgrounds Dec. 7. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

Family farm

The Brenner family farms 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay, and has 50 breeding beef cattle at Bingo Farm in North Lawrence, Ohio. They also own Brenner Trucking, with four commercial dump trucks and one that they use for the farm. Addy plans to take over the family farm someday with her older cousin, Andy.

“She’s the farm girl,” Blake Brenner said, explaining that out of four siblings, Addy is the only one planning to stay on the farm. She enjoys time spent on the tractor.

Addy is interested in studying welding at R.G. Drage Career Technical Center, too. Her cousin did the same thing so he could use the skills he learned on the farm.

She also wants to raise and sell beef show calves, and already has a few of her own breeding beef cattle. She will be the fifth generation of her family on the farm.

“I think it’s just right to continue … the family legacy,” Addy said.

A four leaf clover with the words "behind the shows."

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