Two experienced showmen went head to head Wednesday morning for top honors at the Bedford County Fair’s Market Steer Show, sponsored by the Bedford Gazette.
In the end, Hunter Jay’s 1,364-pound crossbred steer earned the Grand Champion honors at the show, ahead of an entry from a 1,207 steer shown by Macy Walason.
Both youngsters are veterans of the Fair and competition at the state level and beyond.
In the oddly contorted way that the COVID-19 virus affected nearly everything, including livestock competitions, Jay was the defending champion.
While the 2020 Fair was not held, Jay took home the Grand Champion prize in the Bedford County Youth Expo, which was organized as something of a substitute.
But for Jay, earning top honors at the Fair was sweet.
“All of that hard work paid off,” he said.
How much hard work?
“A lot,” he said.
Jay, from Artemas, will be a senior at Everett Area High School and is a member of Bedford County FFA.
Walason, of Green Slopes Farm, Imler, is a graduate of Chestnut Ridge High School and is a past Fair Queen.
There were 42 entries in this year’s show, down from past years, as has been the case all week at the Fairgrounds. But judge Bill Dunn of Cochranton, Crawford County, was effusive in his praise of the competitors and their animals throughout the event.
Dunn also had glowing praise for those who made the event happen.
“These are not the kids who you see on the news tearing down statues,” he said. “They’re good kids.”
Competitions such as the Fair are about much more than learning the ins and outs of raising a market steer, he said. With the lessons learned by competing, “We’re raising the next generation of leaders.”
Jay’s winning steer took first place in the heavy heavyweight division ahead of Cade Emerick.
Reserve champion in the heavyweight class went to the steer shown by Trey Meyers, who took the banner in the middle heavyweight class, ahead of Ethan Beegle. Lane Meyers was tops in the light heavyweight class, with Ellie Emerick second.
In the middleweight class, Dayne Miller took first in the light middleweights, Jeb Emerick was tops in the middleweights, and Walason took both first and second in the heavy middleweights.
Among the lightweight entries, Jolynn Mickle was first in the light lightweights and in the middle lightweights, and Dayle Sphon was tops in the heavy lightweights.
The top animals will be sold at the Fair’s annual livestock auction which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.