The drought has had a devastating effect on Colorado’s agricultural community. But that didn’t stop the town of Rocky Ford from holding its annual Arkansas Valley Fair. Producer Bill George follows the Schweizer family as they enter their livestock in this year’s 4-H competition.
CURWOOD: It’s Living On Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.
CURWOOD: If there is one rite of passage for farming kids as they head from the summer into the fall, it has to be the local fair. And this year, despite widespread drought that’s forced many farmers to sell of their herds, 4-H youth still spent months preparing their livestock for competition. Producer Bill George caught with the Schweizer family at this year’s Arkansas Valley Fair in Rocky Ford, Colorado to bring us this sound portrait.
[SOUND OF WATER IN BUCKET]
ARLENE: My name is Arlene Schweizer. I live here in Rocky Ford, Colorado. We live on a farm and ranch.
[METAL BUCKETS BEING SET DOWN]
ARLENE: It’s been a really tough year, very tough year. My husband and I never thought it would be as dry as it is.
[FEED BEING SCOOPED INTO BUCKETS]
ARLENE: At our county fair we see a lot of positive things going on. You see kids that are happy. You see kids that are excited to show their animals. And I think it will be important for us to see that, because it’s been pretty devastating. Farmers are not wanting to talk about how dry it is because that’s all we’ve heard for about the last five months, and you just get tired of hearing about it. So I think the fair will be exciting.
[SOUND OF SHEEP BEING BLOW DRIED AT FAIR]
CHRIS: My name is Chris, and this is my brother Andy, and he is older than me.
Chris (left) and Andy with one of their steers.
ANDY: Right now, in the barn it gets really loud because I have sheep and goats and steers that get really, really wild. And it gets kind of exciting because the steers get ready to run.
ANDY:I’m going to fall over and die if we raise over 1300.
[MURMER OF PEOPLE IN THE BACKGROUND]
JUDGE 2: He ate his Wheaties!
ANDY: My black steer, he weighed 1428, and he started at 695. So he gained 700 and some pounds. And I got second rate of gain. What that means, what they do is they take all this stuff and they divide it, and they figure out how much they gain per day. And I think my steer gained, like, three something per day.
MICHELLE: My name is Michelle Schweizer, and I’m Andy and Chris’ sister. And I took the week off so I could help them at the fair and get things lined up for them. I showed steers down here for nine years, and I always loved the fair. It’s like the best part of my summer.
[ROOSTER CALLING AND CATTLE MOOING]
MICHELLE: It’s kind of nerve racking sometimes, but it’s still fun. It’s exciting to see your brothers do good.
[SOUND OF HOSE SPRAYING WATER]
CHRIS: We’re washing our steers to get them ready for our showmanship class. We have a drought this year, so you can’t wash your steer twice or three times. You can only wash ‘em once.
[SOUND OF BRUSHING]
CHRIS: I’m brushing my steer’s hair forward and we’re putting stuff on their hair to make it stay where it’s at.
ANDY: It makes the hair stick out more so they look pretty.
[SPRAY PAINT CAN SHAKING]
ANDY: Now, my black steer, we’re going to paint some of his back legs black because he had some skin rubbed raw.
ANNOUNCER (over PA): Get ready. We’re getting ready to start here in about five to six minutes.
CHRIS: I’m really nervous.
MICHELE:I had to remind him because they’re younger. They haven’t been doing it as long as I have and because they’re boys.
MAN: Good luck, Chris! Good luck, Andy!
ANNOUNCER: And that will take us down to the Junior Showmanship Contest here. Today is Andrew Schweizer, Chris Schweizer, Lacey Hood…
ARLENE (in a soft voice): Andy look at the judge, look at the judge.
ANNOUNCER: Let’s give all these young exhibitors a round of applause.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and Gentleman, your grand champion junior showman this year goes to Jason Russell.
ANNOUNCER: Reserve Grand Champion Lacey Hood. Third was Andrew Schweizer, fourth Chris Schweizer, fifth, AJ ….
ARLENE: That’s all right. They’re here to learn. You know, win or lose, you’re here to learn. But you did a good job, Chris. I thought you did a very nice job.
ANDY: I’m going to miss my steer because I worked with him all summer long and you just get attached to him and it’s hard to let him go. I’m going to cry, probably.
AUCTIONEER: ... fine looking steer from Andrew Schweizer, Ladies and Gentleman. Five, 600, now seven….
[SOUND OF AUCTION AND PEOPLE BIDDING]
CURWOOD: Our sound portrait of the Schweizer Family at the annual Arkansas Valley Fair in Rocky Ford, Colorado, was produced by Bill George.
[SOUND OF AUCTION]
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