This week marks the 68th time the Cass County Junior Livestock Association has gotten together to host dozens of young people from local 4-H clubs and FFA chapters for the annual livestock shows and auction.
The four-day event was held at North Park in Harrisonville, kicking off Monday with the dairy cattle show. The livestock shows also feature beef cattle, Bobby calves, rabbits, poultry, pigs, Boer goats and sheep. From there, participating animals could go to auction.
For nearly 70 years, children and young adults have entered animals into the livestock shows and auction organized by the Cass County Junior Livestock Association (CCJLA) to fulfill family traditions and to get in on some friendly competition, but the annual event also exposes youth to the challenges of raising an animal.
Kelly Melzer, of Harrisonville, was with her three children at the start of the livestock shows Monday. Two of the Melzer children led their dairy cattle around the show ring for judging. CCJLA officials say each 4-H and FFA member feed, groom and prepare their animal projects for exhibition, spending countless hours raising their animals, keeping financial records, attending workshops on animal health and developing a lifelong set of leadership skills.
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“It’s just fun working with our animals,” said 8-year-old Molly Melzer, standing alongside her brother, 6-year-old, David Melzer.
“I just like leading them around,” David adds.
Kelly Melzer says her children work with the cattle at least three times a day, feeding, grooming and walking the animals. Raising dairy cattle has been part a family tradition to the Melzers. The children are also members of the Wal-Center 4-H Club.
“I showed when I was a kid, my dad showed cattle and my grandpa, so they are the fourth generation showmen from our family,” Melzer said. “Dairies are slowly dwindling, and the family farm is kind of a thing of the past and people just are doing other things. It was really important to me as their mother and as the 4-H dairy leader that they understand hard work.”
That hard work, as shown in this week’s livestock shows, often pays off.
Later in the day on Monday, Kelly Melzer’s daughter, Molly, was named Supreme Junior Champion in the dairy cattle show with her spring yearling heifer, a Holstein named Danta.
The Melzer children were among at least 75 who signed up to participate in the livestock shows this year. CCJLA is composed of the county’s 13 4-H clubs and seven FFA chapters. Participants also come from neighboring counties, including Bates, Henry, Johnson and Jackson.
For more information about the Cass County Junior Livestock Shows and Auction, visit the University of Missouri Extension website or call the Harrisonville office at 816-380-8460.