Cale Hinrichsen and his younger sister, Eva, admitted they were a bit nervous before they each delivered a speech Sunday during a youth cattle program at the American Royal Complex.
The 14-year-old boy from Westmoreland, Kan., spent the next four minutes wooing the three-judge panel with his knowledge of Angus cattle and reasons that bovine was superior to other breeds. Afterward, Cale took the experience in stride.
“I figured, if I messed up, then I messed up,” he said.
Eva, 12, came away with a different feeling.
“Did you see my knees shaking?” she asked her mother, Lynne Hinrichsen, who shook her head.
The brother and sister were among more than 750 exhibitors in the annual National Junior Angus Show, which began Saturday and continues through Thursday.
Youths from throughout the country will take part in a variety of activities that include livestock judging, quiz bowls, public speaking, cooking contests, educational programs and competitions where youth participants try to sell cattle to potential customers in real-world scenarios.
“This is something that, for a lot of them, is their No. 1 priority,” said Jena Thompson, a spokeswoman for the American Angus Association, the group that sponsors the event. “In many cases, this is how they make their living; their livelihood are these animals.”
Thompson said members of the National Junior Angus Association prepare for the show all year long.
“It is part of their lives,” Lynn Hinrichsen said. “For us, these national shows are our summer, family vacations.”
Regina McFarland, mother of competitor Isaac McFarland, 15, said the competitions are a reward for the hard work youth ranchers put in throughout the year.
“This is good, clean family fun,” McFarland said. “We’ve met a lot of nice, decent people from all over the country.”