Nicole Stevenson busily groomed one of the four Angus heifers she planned to show Saturday at the Open Angus Cattle Show at MontanaFair.
Stevenson, 17, from Joliet, vacuumed sawdust off the heifer’s dark coat as it stood still. Contestants in other temporary stalls inside the Expo Center readied their own entries for the show.
Grooming the animals, feeding and watering them and halter-training them goes on year-round on the family ranch, said Stevenson, who has been involved in FFA for seven years. But it has its payoff.
“It’s pretty exciting when you win,” she said.
On Ag Day, the first full day of MontanaFair, the Expo Center was filled with small and large animals, from bunnies and chickens to goats and cattle. Open livestock shows, held at different times at various venues throughout the day, featured cattle, lambs, goats, horses and swine.
The noise of the animals, the echo of voices over the sound system, and the chatting adults and kids viewing the animals on display created a cacophony inside the cavernous building.
Most of the contestants in the open Angus show came from Yellowstone County and other nearby communities. The numbers are about the same as last year, said Jay Nansel, MontanaFair beef cattle superintendent.
“The cattle producers like to show off what they’ve done over the year,” he said. “They start working with the cattle early in the year, so this is a long-term project for them.”
Montana is the No. 1 state in the nation for seed stock production of Angus cattle, said Kurt Kangas, regional manager of the American Angus Association. Kangas was on hand Saturday to help out with the open Angus cattle show.
He was pleased to see the next generation of ranchers showing off the results of their long-term labor.
“These bigger animals take a lot of work, they take a lot of time and they take a lot of…