Junior Livestock Show Teaches Kids Valuable Lessons

September 23, 2004 – Posted at 2:25 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- The Northeast Arkansas District Fair is a good opportunity for kids and adults across Region 8 to get a closer look at livestock. But some kids take a more hands-on approach to the animals at the fair.

Eight-year-old Brandon Mangrum is showing his pet pig Lu Lu. He said, "The person who wins is going to be really excited, because this is like fun to them."

There were plenty of competitors at this year's Swine Junior Open. For the kids, months of hard work paid off, and for the parents, some anxious moments.

"This is the easy part, the showing is the easy part, you don't see the behind the scenes. That's the part that's tough, going home, having to feed them, give them a bath, walk them, exercise them," said Brandon's mother Tracie Mangrum.

Parent Ray Copeland agreed, "They are doing their own feeding now, cleaning their pens, getting their animals ready for show. We've added more on to them as they've gotten older."

Parents say showing animals is a great way to teach responsibility to kids, but the kids say their favorite part of it is getting out of school.

Sixth grader Tori Copeland spent Thursday morning showing her pig, "It's just really fun to do, and I mean it does get you out of school and everything, but it's really fun, that's why I keep wanting to do it."

"If you was showing and you won a trophy, you would be so happy that you would want to do it over and over and over," laughed Brandon.

Having a competitive nature can teach some life lessons.

"I think being competitive is important, but you've also got to be a good sport about it as well. So we try to emphasize that too," said Ray.

"It teaches them that there is someone other than him, that is relying on him," said Tracey, "It's something that he has to feed, water, take care of, get a bath, depending on him."

And for some, it could be the first steps in a long career.

"If you get the hang of showing pigs, you want to do it for the rest of your life if you can," said Brandon.

The livestock shows continue Friday with more of the Junior Open at 9:00 a.m. These kids will be showing beef cattle.