Calgary – While other kids their age scampered between rides on the midway and scarfed down deep-fried delicacies at the Calgary Stampede on Saturday, Emma Thomason and Grace Glover spent some quality cousin time in the livestock barn, watching over their livestock.
Emma, 12, and Grace, 11, live on their family farms in Moose Jaw, Sask. and Boissevain, Man., respectively. That’s about 500 kilometres apart, so getting to show together in the Junior Steer Classic at their first Calgary Stampede was a big deal.
“I just have fun. It doesn’t matter as much to me about placement,” said Emma, an experienced hand in the ring after six years in 4-H. That’s the attitude to have, seeing as her 1,365-pound Charolais cross Scuba Steve is a “sassy” steer that can cause her no end of trouble.
“He really doesn’t like seeing horses. He freaks out. And if I try to work on him at home, he will try to kick me or step on me,” Emma said. Both girls devoted countless hours to working with their animals, from halter training to grooming. Despite the steer’s challenging nature, Emma will miss him when he’s gone. “Honestly, I cry every year when I have to sell them. It takes me about five months to get over it.”
As for Grace, her steer Kevin is a much calmer beast. The clubby steer (which is a mixed-breed steer bred to show well) has a “friendly” nature.
“I love junior activities. I think they’re the best. It builds their confidence and they learn self-respect and respect for others,” said the girls’ grandmother Merle Thomason. “And they have a good time. They all work together so well as a family. Emma is the fourth generation of her family to compete at the Stampede.”
In 2015, the Calgary Stampede refreshed its steer classic show to be entirely oriented to youth competitors aged nine to 21 as part of the organization’s commitment to developing the next generation of agriculture advocates. In this, the 35th year of the competition, 77 entrants vied for scholarships and prize money totaling $79,000, $91,000 with the addition of the Quality Beef Competition.
As the top finisher in her class, Grace moved on to the Championship round. Emma carefully groomed her cousin’s steer just before they entered the ring with the top two finishers in each of the 10 classes.
In the end, Stampede veteran Devon Scott of Arrowwood, Alta. and his steer Rotor took the Grand Champion title, which comes with $12,000 in scholarships and $5,000 in prize money. Fourteen-year-old Casie Brokenshire of Estevan, Sask. was named Reserve Grand Champion, receiving $8,000 in scholarships and $3,000 in cash.
“We raised him ourselves, we didn’t buy him, and did it all ourselves, so it feels pretty good,” Scott said of his steer, which features Simmental, Angus and Maine-Anjou in its lineage. “We saw awesome potential in him at the start and he came along really well.”
The 20-year-old, who just completed a two-year Agriculture Science program at Lethbridge College, will likely spend his scholarship winning on courses in artificial insemination, as his cash winnings are earmarked for building a herd of purebred Simmentals. For full results of the Calgary Stampede’s Junior Steer Classic, please visit https://ag.calgarystampede.com/results.
About the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and promotes western heritage and values. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.
See more at calgarystampede.com