Posted 10/18/2020 10:15 (#8551522 - in reply to #8550706) Subject: RE: Show calf disconnect?
I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with it being called entertainment, but I believe it's much more than just entertainment. Like most industries it has people who make a lot of money, people who make a little money, people who lose money, and a general customer base who spends money to do it. I think for many of them it's a child development tool and a long term life skills platform that can be entered into or used at whatever level the family desires.
What many people don't know is that there are also "investors" within the industry. These are often people who went out and made a fortune and now like to give back in low key or other nonconventional ways. Some invest in breeds that are known for having a good Jr program, some invest against breeds or breeders/people, some invest in hosting the events, some create scholarships to be earned, and some even directly identify families or kids and invest right at the source. There are $5-10,000 calves being sold for $2,500 to good families, and some are even given away via an application system, every single year. There are also lower level investors. They're often very good livestock evaluators who for whatever reasons travel a lot. The one I'm most familiar with sees a lot of pigs. He will snag 10-20 pigs a year out of the thousands he sees and sells them to kids identified by ag instructors and teachers at affordable prices. If they will work at it, his pigs often go on to do quite well. He very rarely sees the results of his work, but giving a kid the chance to win that otherwise couldn't afford to win can be big deal. In the past there were order buyers and sale barn owners who did similar things quite often.
Your meeting friends comment can also have a much greater meaning when the discussion expands to state and national shows. The Jr Nationals shows can cost ~$250k to host. It takes a lot of money and effort to host all the skills competitions like team sales, fitting, photography, speech competitions, and all the other events the kids are given the opportunity to compete in on top of showing their calf for a whole 10 minutes. The kids quickly go from "Hi, I'm Xxx from Xxxx, what's your name?" to furiously working together under pressure in matter of an hour or working together verbally to sell a judge a heifer in some made up ag sales scenario. Those kids don't forget those other kids and life has a way of reintroducing them to each other when college and adulthood rolls around. With today's level of social media, those networks can have serious value when it comes to landing a job, meeting a sudden need, or when some other situation arises. I don't know about other breeds, but the $250k hosting cost is often paid for by donations from breeders and investors throughout the year. If the industry wasn't more than just entertainment, I don't think you'd see the above or any of the other countless ways that people invest and give back to the programs at the level they do.
I also believe there are a few things that happen in the show ring world that eventually have a way of trickling back into the commercial world. The show ring is not really bound by certain restraints, even if they exist in some form, and rebellion toward them can happen more easily. One of those restraints was constantly pressured and tested in the late '90s early '00s until it finally cracked. To this day I still remember quiet private comments from judges while in the ring that put a burr under my saddle and later, with a lot of help, being a very small part of driving a wedge into the crack of one of those restraints. Today, it barely exists in the show ring and some feel it's finally trickling into the commercial world in some lesser form.