The Carson City Fair Showcases the Best of 4H and Youth Showmanship

Posted by Mateja Lane
carson city fair
All photos by Mateja Lane

The local fair never disappoints. 

Do you wait all year for your local fair? Does your mouth salivate when you think about cotton candy or does your heart skip a beat when you think of the carnival rides? Or maybe you wait all year to show the animal you have raised in the 4H Showmanship Class.

The Carson City Fair happened over the weekend and it was a fun time for everyone. There was the youth livestock shows, plenty of local vendors, an antique tractor show, carnival, music, and rodeo events.

The youth showmanship class is an important event showcasing the animals, or projects, from swine to sheep, cows, and goats, both in the meat and dairy classes. And while most these animals do go to market, the participant learns all about how to care for different livestock by raising them ethically over the year. It's an important part of knowing where your food comes from and the youth participants of 4-H, FFA, and National Grange take showmanship very seriously!

Here are how the shows were set up.

Swine Class

First off are the piggies! These huge swine are judged on their hocks and hams, because, again, these pigs will go to auction. The kids, split into Junior, Intermediate, and Senior classes depending on age, are judged on the knowledge of their project, how well they control their animal with the show sticks as they make their way around the pen, and how well they make eye contact and smile at the judge.

Two young girls were the only participants in the junior class and they had to walk their, usually stubborn, pigs around the ring while intermittently talking to the judge about the quality of their project.

swine show

The participants wear either a white shirt and green tie, sash or bow to signify they are 4-H, a denim jacket for FFA, and red vests for National Grange youth.

youth livestock show


Next up were the sheep, who all got very nice haircuts for their big day.

Now, these unruly sheep were a lot to handle and it was impressive how some of the youngest contestants could hold their animal as it was bucking. Those cowboy boots come in handy when you get a hoof to the foot.

sheep show

The contestants are then judged on the sheep's hair, feet, and milk. The young handler needs to know all this and more about their animal for a good score.

The animal goes through lots of primping in order to look their best for the judge. That includes wearing these "lamb jams" in order to keep them clean until their turn around the ring, and to keep them warm after their bath.

lamb jams

There were all kinds of different sheep being showed, including breeding ewes. In these cases, the youth had to showcase their knowledge on how to best care for pregnant sheep and many of the contestants had helped with the birthing process.

Talk about realistic lessons!

sheep livestock show

After the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior categories showed their animals, the Clover Buds came out with their sheep. These little cuties are the youngest 4-H participants, usually ranging between five and eight years old.


The goats were next in two classes: meat and dairy.


The finalists in the Junior dairy class were a La Mancha goat and an African Boer.

goat showmanship

The contestants had to know all about the milk their project produced and how to breed the most prolific animal while keeping them healthy.


The cows were also split into two categories: beef and dairy.

dairy cow

Showing these cows was impressive, to say the least. These kids were no more than 100 pounds and they were handling these cows that were well over 1,000 pounds. Talk about strength and composure!

cow show

And one of the dairy cows was pregnant so the contestant had to talk about the different nutritional additions her heifer needed and what the gestation period for cows is (6-8 months).


Rabbits and Chickens

The rabbits and chickens were shown the next day after the livestock showmanship portion.

There were only four rabbits in the show- a Lionhead, a Flemish Giant, a Rex, and an English Spot. Each rabbit won 1st place in their class (because there was no competition)! But they probably would have won regardless, because these were some good-looking bunnies!

flemish giant rabbit

Next was the chicken show! The little ones went first and they had to know a lot about their chickens including breed history, egg production, correct feed amounts, and correct handling.

They also have to "walk" their chickens down the table.

READ MORE: "Chicken People" Is a New Documentary All About Poultry Shows

There were some impressive chickens that included Silkies, Buffs, and Americanas in all kinds of colors!

chicken show

These kids were serious chicken experts!

chicken show

The Carson City Fair was a fun time for all the participants and their families as they showed their animals that they have been working with either as an ongoing project, chickens and dairy cows and goats, or only for the year. They work hard all year and learn all about how to be professionals around farm animals.

The best thing about these kinds of events is to see the nostalgia as the parents all get together and help their kids and others in the program spot-wash their animals, and give them haircuts and baths. Livestock shows connect youth to generations past.

Everyone has worn the same uniform and led their prized animals around the same pen, and in a way, this time-honored tradition lets us look back in time.

Did you participate in any youth livestock programs growing up? Tell us in the comments below. 

Photos by Mateja Lane

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The Carson City Fair Showcases the Best of 4H and Youth Showmanship