This is Copper. He’s a steer.
During the summer of 1997, he was pretty much my BFF. Things started out a little rough. When we bought him from a neighbor in the spring time, he was so wild that he wound up in the nose of the trailer. He calmed down pretty quickly though, and he and Blazer (who was homegrown on my parent’s ranch), were my all-time favorite set of steers that I showed.
Both went to county fair and I’m pretty sure they were in the same class. Copper won and Blazer placed second. Copper then went on to win the Grand Champion trophy. I sold Blazer at county fair, and took Copper on to state fair.
That’s where this picture was taken. Copper was the Charolais breed champion, which means we got to go back into the ring for the grand drive. The judge pulled Copper and two other calves off to the side and spent a significant amount of time examining them from a distance, instructing us to walk them in circles, and coming over to feel their ribs to check their finish. Ultimately he chose the other two calves as his grand and reserve champions for the show. But Copper was right there and it was exciting to be that close to the purple banner.
I sold Copper that week and he and I both made our television debut when we (well, mainly I – he just stood there and looked pretty) did the news report on the junior livestock sale for Action 7 News. I could probably recite my entire two minute spiel from that report, thanks to the fact that my proud mama would play the VHS tape for anyone who stepped into our house.
Copper was a golden, four-legged sidekick that summer and a testament to the fact that these show animals become friends. Pigs were usually my favorite (the steers were/are kinda scary) but I can’t even remember which pigs I had during Copper’s year. Even to strangers, he stood out in the best possible way with his coloring and awesome hair (thanks in part to genetics and in part to a morning rinse, spending the day in the cool room, and an evening rinse, every. single. day. all. summer. long) I remember a couple of ladies walking by him at the fair and one of them said, “Oh would you look at his hair! Do you think that’s his natural color?” The thought of dipping a steer to dye his hair had me laughing.
It’s state fair time here in New Mexico this week. Walking through the barns, I always get a bit nostalgic. Remembering the various pigs and steers I showed there through the years. Oh and that one lucky year I tried lambs. It was a comfortable place to spend at least a week each year from the ages of 9 to 17. I did a lot of growing during my time at state fair (and it wasn’t just attributable to the fair food…). The people, the sounds, the smells, and the memories of dorms, shows, street dances, and naps on the show box – they all bring a sense of peace and belonging that I was blessed to experience.
Do you visit the state or county fairs in your area? What’s your favorite part of the fair? Any livestock showers out there – share your favorite fair memory!