GREAT FALLS – The Montana State Fair has many traditions, and one of them is the annual Livestock Competition and Sale.
“I’ve been a part of 4H for six years. And this is my third show,” said 15-year-old Sydney Kostecki.
“It’s one of the best 4H shows in the state,” junior livestock superintendent Mike Vanek said.
For months, members have been raising steer, pigs, goats and lambs. All in anticipation, leading up to the big week at the fair.
“If you spend a little bit of time here and watch the kids, it’s a competitive event. They all want to win, but there’s a lot of friends around this barn. Everyone comes here and enjoys it. We try to keep it relaxed. It’s neat to see the kids having fun and smiling,” Vanek said.
This week will bring nearly 200 members and their families to the state fair from across the state.
“It’s a barnful, I don’t know the exact count, but it’s a lot,” Vanek said.
Vanek has an 11-year-old son in the program named Tanner. Tanner says he enjoys working with livestock and having the opportunity to showcase them.
“You have to take care of them or they are not going to be good cattle if they are not worked every day,” Tanner said. “Practice showing them, making sure they have hair and not slick sheer. Slick sheer is okay, but it just doesn’t look as good cause you have to take care of their hair every day. You have to take care of them every day.”
“For me, it’s just getting to this point and raising the animals as well as they can and getting them to look as best as they can. And just competing with everybody from all over the state and meeting new people,” Kostecki said.
Vanek says it goes way beyond the kids raising animals.
“This is our economy in a nutshell. These kids are Montana farming and ranching. It was built on that and these kids are the future of that. It’s really cool to see it continuing,” Vanek said. “Other places in the world it’s going away, but it’s definitely a huge part of our traditions in communities here in Montana.”
The members will showcase their livestock Wednesday and Thursday. Winners will be announced Thursday night.
“It’s a really cool event watching the kids get their buckles and ribbons,” Vanek said.
The live auction will take place Friday night.
“If somebody wanted to come down and purchase an animal from these kids who have worked so hard, we have a social at 4 p.m. and the sale at 5 p.m.” Vanek said. “We just really want people to come down and support the kids and watch it.”
You can click here for the full schedule. All activities take place in the Pavilion at the Montana State Fair.
“It’s a lot of work. They’re not your typical fair-going kids. They do try to get to the Midway and the concerts, but this is a priority,” Vanek said.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue