The 11th annual Big East Regional Youth and Jackpot Cattle Show took place May 5-7 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA. The three-day event, geared toward youths ages three to 21, consisted of numerous family friendly activities and several different cattle breed shows. The Big East Show also played host to the New England Junior Hereford Association’s regional show and the Northeast Highland Cattle Association Spring Show and Gathering.
“We are actually now the largest youth beef cattle show on the east coast,” Show Manager Mike Gauvin said. “Every year we expand the show. This year is our most dramatic as far as increased numbers…Last year we had 125 youths entered and this year we have 140. We have over 300 heifers and a record 71 steers this year. Last year there were 268 heifers and 57 steers.”
The steady increase of exhibitors began eight years ago when Gauvin, a former participant, took over as show manager. His goal from the beginning was to make a more family friendly show and the results have paid off.
“We got together wanting to have something in this area where families could come and introduce themselves in the big show arena,” Gauvin said. “Our biggest goal is to fill the barns and continue to offer that family value.”
Gauvin says the shows growing popularity and recent success would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors, a dedicated 15-member committee and a staff of volunteers.
“It’s a committee run show,” Gauvin said. “It’s all volunteers…We are completely funded by sponsorship. We have families that love what we do and companies that faithfully support us.”
The Big East Show did not always have the numbers and success it does now. Paul Dunn of Sutton, MA recalls attending the show as a youth when it was a simple auction held at a local farm.
“This show’s roots go way back,” Dunn said. “It started off as a spring auction for Herefords. I actually was a kid when I bought a Hereford at the auction in 1984. It was held on a Massachusetts farm called the Double M-B Ranch.”
According to Dunn the auction was initially under the direction of the New England Hereford Association (NEHA). As more events were added to the show it grew beyond the scope of what the NEHA could handle. The show was eventually turned over to the Eastern States Exposition and became what is today known as the Big East Show.
Dunn continues to be associated with the show in more ways than one. He owns 13 head of cattle and continues to faithfully participate in the show as an exhibitor. Dunn also serves as one of The Big East Show’s 15 committee members, having come aboard eight years ago when the show began to expand under Gauvin’s leadership.
“I started to bring my own kids here just to see where they can grow,” said Dunn. “My kids learn a lot from other people, sometimes directly and other times by observing them. This is a big difference from going to a little county show. It’s a whole other level here.”
One of the main reasons the show has grown in popularity over the years is due to the host of different activities offered during each day of the show. The first day started with an informative clinic on feeding show heifers. This was followed by a family trivia show similar to the TV show Jeopardy but with a beef cattle theme.
“We offer youth activities from the minute they get here,” Gauvin said. “We have demonstration from a livestock feed company. Each night we have an evening meal event. We have a game show tonight called Cow-perdy. We offer a total of $1,000 in cash prizes for that.”
The big event of the day was a youth showmanship show which was judged based on how well participants presented their animal. There were five different winners based on the age division they were in.
Coleman Stockdale, 9, of Dayton, PA was the pee wee champion. Rylee Stockdale, 12, of Dayton, PA was the junior champion. Gunner Files, 17, of Millbrook, NY was the senior champion. Olivia Briggs, 17, of Sullivan, NH was the intermediate champion. Caleb Booth, 19, of Cobleskill, NY was the collegiate champion.
The first day closed with an all-breed cattle sale organized and sponsored by the Southern New England Simmental Association. A total of 35 cattle were sold with part of the proceeds going to the sellers to help with farm expenses and the rest going back to the show.
One of those cattle sellers was Jeremy Bear of Premier Farm in Greenville, NY. He sold a one year, four-month-old Simmental cattle for $2,200, which was the third highest sale of the day.
“We try to consign something that will be a good representation of our herd to help promote future sales on our farm,” Bear said. “We use the money towards expenses for our cattle.”
On the second day of the show there was skill-a-thon where kids were tested on their knowledge in different areas of the cattle industry. The winners received prizes supplied by the livestock grain and feed companies who sponsored the event.
The night concluded with a scotch auction, which is a cross between a silent auction and a raffle sale.
“There are over 250 items with everything from cattle equipment to household items,” Gauvin said.
The second day of the show was highlighted by a youth heifer show. Here the judges picked the animals which best represented their breed. The supreme champion of the show was Sassy Lady by 20-year-old Kelsey Jurgilewicz of Norfolk, CT. The reserve supreme champion was SCC 4R Jersey 5D presented by 12-year-old Rylee Stockdale of Dayton, PA.
The final day of the show started with three separate steer shows made up of Hereford, Lowline and other mixed breeds. The show closed with the Big East Show’s marquee event called the Open Jackpot Heifer Show. The jackpot was open to exhibitors of all ages and the competition consisted of all different breeds of heifers. The judges looked at the overall quality of each animals and chose the heifer that they felt best represented the beef cattle industry.
JHHC Domino 28D, a Percentage Simmental by Hailey Blatt of Robesonia, PA was the Big East Jackpot Show Grand Champion. Blatt received a cash prize of $1,300. The winner of the Open Jackpot Steer Show was Davanta Rarick of Fleetwood, PA. Rarick received a cash prize of $612.
For more information about the Big East Regional Youth and Jackpot Cattle Show visit www.facebook.com/thebigeastjackpot .