By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- The George family dynasty in the Shenandoah County 4-H, FFA grand champion market steer show continued Tuesday as Allison George's beast took home the grand prize.
"I love him," said George, who will be a junior when she returns to Central High School next week. "I don't want to sell him. He was born and raised on my farm and I halter broke him and everything."
It was George's second straight year taking home the grand prize. Her older brother, Dustin, won the title from 2003 to 2005.
"I think it's awesome, [I] worked hard," she said of her win. "I even pulled through with a hurt foot."
That came earlier in the day when George's 1,328-pound steer stepped on her left foot. She didn't think the injury was serious, though.
Reserve grand champion winner Paul Dellinger also is a familiar face in the winner's circle. He snagged the grand prize in 2006 and 2007.
The 15-year-old Stonewall Jackson sophomore said his crossbreed Rocky weighs 1,250 pounds. He enjoys showing cattle and especially likes winning.
"It's good," Dellinger said. "It's better than winning nothing."
George said she wasn't sure her steer would fetch as much at auction as in years past because of the poor economy.
The economy also led to fewer youths showing market steers this year, according to the fair's director, Jim Eastep. Usually, there are about 60 entrants, he said, but this year there were just 43 or so.
"That's enough for a pretty good show," Eastep said. "With the economy the way it is, it costs about $800-$1,000 to feed one of these calves for almost a full year. This being an extra, added expense on the family, and they have to give up something. This is just a fun thing."
And, the numbers aren't as low at the Shenandoah County Fair as at many of the area fairs, he said.
Parents looking to save a little money, yet still let their children participate in the fair, are turning more to lambs and goats, Eastep said. It's just $50-$100 to feed a goat, he said.
"They can keep a goat in their backyard," Eastep said. "They can take a goat or a lamb and have a lot of fun coming to the county fair. Any kind of experience that they can [get to] come to the fair, I think it's great to have that available for them. That's what it's for, the kids, the young people."
Eastep was on the fair board when it agreed to add goats to the fair lineup several years ago, he said.
"Four years ago we started out with about 12 goats," he said. "This year, we've got about 125 goats."
Raising a 4-H animal is great for family bonding, Eastep said.
"You will never find anything to bring a family closer together than working with an animal all year long," he said.