The cancellation of the Ravalli County Fair and Rockin’ RC Rodeo has had a ripple effect across the county. One of the most impacted groups has been the 4H program, although some plans are in place for non-livestock 4H members to complete their projects by going through the interview process. At that time, the 4H member will be judged on their projects and a ribbon given. These projects include cooking, sewing, woodworking, leathercraft, photography, rocketry, and many other projects.
But what about those members who began their project last fall when they purchased steers for the market beef project? Or sat up nights with their ewes in the sheep breeding project, waiting for them to lamb? They were halfway through their project and had already spent hundreds of dollars on feed, not to mention the cost of the animal, when COVID-19 hit. These 4Hers continued on with their projects not expecting the pandemic to persist into the summer. Members who were enrolled in market swine, sheep, or goat also continued with their projects, purchasing pigs, lambs or kid goats, also with the goal of showing their projects at the county fair.
But on July 13, those dreams hit a brick wall when the Public Health director shut down the fair due to COVID-19 concerns. Shelley Brown, along with Dave and Jessica Kostecki, brought together a group of people interested in helping these young people realize their goal of showing their animals.
Because of mandates from Montana State Extension at Montana State University in Bozeman, the 4H label cannot be used for this new show and so the group came up with the name Freedom Show.
“Who doesn’t want to celebrate our flag and our nation,” said Brown.
Then, they had to come up with a venue. The CDC had come out with guidelines for stock shows earlier this summer. Some of the guidelines include having a separate entrance and exit to the ring. The number of animals and exhibitors inside the ring must be such that social distancing will be able to be done. It is also recommended that no animals be housed overnight, they just come in and show and then go.
Finding a place that had enough pens to hold a large amount of animals, each one in its own pen, was problematic but Triple D Cattle Feedlot and Sale facility, located up the Burnt Fork, east of Stevensville, came forward and offered their facility. The site of the former Mytty ranch, this facility has enough pens for individual animals as well as larger pens for showing.
“Thank you, Drew Lewis, Kaci Lewis, Beadle Family! And the whole Triple D Crew! This will be an amazing venue for our show,” said Brown.
The Freedom Show will be August 29th and 30th. It is open to young people from Ravalli and Missoula County only. Market hogs will take to the ring at 8 a.m. on August 29, followed by swine showmanship. Once the pigs are out of the ring and on their way home, the market goats will come center stage with market goat, wether/dam class, and goat showmanship. On Sunday, August 30, the sheep take over with market lamb at 8 a.m. followed by wether/dam and sheep showmanship. Beef will finish out the show on Sunday with market steers, bred heifers and beef showmanship. There may be a few breaks in between classes as it’s the same judge for all classes. Also, Brown said that any announcements made the day of the show would supersede the schedule.
There will be four divisions of showmanship: senior, intermediate, junior, and peewee. These are based on 4H age guidelines.
Entry forms will be available this week. A link to the Google form can be found on the Freedom Livestock Show Facebook page. If an exhibitor needs a paper entry form, they will need to contact Brown at 406-240-4879.
There is no entry fee for the show. There will be many great prizes as many sponsors have stepped up and generously given to the show for costs of the show and awards. They are also holding a raffle for a half a butchered pig, including bacon and ham. The value of the pig is $275 and the cost of the processing is about $50. Tickets are available around the valley or by contacting Leah Grant on Facebook or call/text 406-403-1207 or Crystal Grant on fb or 406-241-8134.
“We just want the kids to be able to show! This is a way to take liability and all off county 4H and the Fairgrounds,” said Brown. “There is no political agenda, and none will be attached to our show!”
The Ravalli County 4H program is currently working on plans for an online livestock sale, so that these kids will have a way to sell their animals. Details on that next week.