Edinburg teen rises to the top at county fair

Hailey Shoemaker, of Edinburg, shown here with her heavy weight market steer Smoke 'Em, took home the Grand Champion Beef Showmanship award at this year's Shenandoah County Fair showmanship competition. Kevin Green/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Edinburg native Hailey Shoemaker has high aspirations for her future in agriculture and livestock.

On Tuesday, Shoemaker, 18, and her heavy weight steer Smoke ‘Em took home Grand Champion Beef Showman at the 2015 Shenandoah County Fair in Woodstock.

“It’s definitely the best I’ve ever done, and it’s an honor to have gotten it,” Shoemaker said. “I feel really excited.”

Shoemaker’s path to showmanship success may have seemed quicker than many of her peers in the 4-H livestock program. She began showing at age 13 with pigs and has only been showing steers for the last three years.

“I haven’t been doing it as long as everybody else. I used to be like a girly-girl who did beauty pageants,” Shoemaker said.

However, that all changed after Shoemaker fell in love with livestock and agriculture after taking an agriculture education elective course at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School five years ago.

From that point, Shoemaker grew into an active member of the Cabin Hill 4-H Club in Shenandoah County – even taking on the role of club president this year.

In her final year with the club, Tuesday’s results mark the highest awards Shoemaker has achieved in showmanship.

“I’ve been at the top end of my classes (every year), but I’ve never made it this far,” she said. “It feels like all my hard work’s starting to pay off.”

Following Tuesday’s shows, Shoemaker thanked two individuals that helped her get to this point. “I wouldn’t be where I am without my mother, Barbara Shoemaker, or my 4-H leader, Stephanie Case.”

Starting last year, the Shoemakers began getting their cattle from the Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She said that she and her mom bought Smoke ‘Em last October.

“He’s a great showmanship partner … I spend a lot of time with him and I wash him and brush him everyday,” Shoemaker said, noting that she has spent three hours feeding, training and working Smoke ‘Em every day since October.

“My mom has gone with me everywhere we’ve gone, she’s been supportive no matter what,” Shoemaker said, noting that they have shown Smoke ‘Em at numerous shows in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia.

Now Shoemaker will be traveling with Smoke ‘Em at the State Fair of Virginia in Doswell later this month to sell him at the market beef auction.

Since Smoke ‘Em placed third in the Heavy Weight Market Steer class, Shoemaker noted that she did not have to sell him at the county fair.

“I’m really excited, because I’ve never been able to show at the state fair before,” Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker is considering attending classes at Lord Fairfax Community College, with the goal of transferring to Perdue University, where she aims to study livestock genetics.

Shoemaker noted that she is hoping to eventually raise cattle and lambs of her own after she graduates from college.

In the meantime, Shoemaker said she will be looking to support and help the younger members of the Cabin Hill 4-H Club while she attends Lord Fairfax.

“I wanna promote the agriculture industry and I wanna help kids grow and learn responsibility through showing livestock,” she said.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com