4-H Dairy Invitational the “Best One-day Show Possible”

The 10th annual BRITESPAN 4-H Dairy Invitational Show took place on August 6th in Lucknow, Ontario.  This year’s show was another success with 144 exhibitors competing and the stands full with spectators. The show was sponsored once again by BRITESPAN Building Systems, a local company that sells rapidly installed, versatile cover-all buildings, including dairy cow pens and stalls.  I was glad to have the opportunity to attend the show and learn from the competitors and organizers. A lot of energy goes into this one-day event. Read all about the event, and why it is such a great experience, below!

The show started in 2003 when seven organizers decided they wanted to start up a local 4-H dairy show in Lucknow. Their goal was to have a one-day show with all the grandeur and excitement of bigger shows that usually last two or three days. They recruited the help of Diamond Show sponsor Ben and Jenny Hogervorst, owners of Cover-All Building Systems (now BRITESPAN Building Systems) who were more than happy to help. The first show took place the following August with 47 exhibitors and has been growing ever since. Over the last ten years, each year the show has stayed true to the original mission of being “the best one-day show possible where every 4-H Member was glad to have been there”.

Exhibitors lining up before entering the ring
Exhibitors lining up before entering the ring

This year, the show had exhibitors from 14 different counties, some competitors driving three hours to attend. Two friends, Greg Fuller and Matthew Finch, from Dorchester area, got up at 3 a.m. in order to load their calves and be on the road in time to show. Greg and Matthew agree that the early morning was worth it. “There is a big hurry to get everyone ready and then pressure to perform well in the show. It can be stressful but it’s a rush – a good rush,” Matthew explains. The general consensus among exhibitors is that the show is both a great learning experience and a fun event. Landon Smith, a Perth 4-H Member, certainly enjoys the show. “I have lots of friends who show dairy cows, so the show is a bit of a social event for me, and I like competing,” he explains.

The best one-day show possible where everyone was glad to have been there.

The show provides a learning experience that goes beyond just getting the chance to show. “The local Lucknow Dairy Club is involved in the setting up and the clean up of the whole show.  So they are learning a little about volunteering and organizing. Often some of the Members continue to help out with the show after their 4-H years are completed,” one of the show organizers, Perry Van Osch explains. The show organizers invite an official judge each year that has strong showmanship skills to judge the competition. This judge takes the time to speak with each of the exhibitors on what they can do to improve next time they go into the ring. The show takes place early in the show season to provide feedback to 4-H Members. This gives them a chance to build on their skills so they can become stronger competitors later in the season.

One exhibitor with her project heifer
One exhibitor poses with her project heifer

This year the judge was Bruce Sayles. Andrew Den Haan acted as ringman keeping the cows in line and lending a hand to some of the younger competitors when needed. Announcer Glen McNeil, President of Holstein Canada, entertained the spectators with general information and comments about the show, interviews with show supporters, and draws. Ben Hogervorst, owner of BRITESPAN, and Kelly Thompson, BRITESPAN marketing manager, also attended the show.

The Grand Champion Showperson was Linda Franken of Huron 4-H Association, Reserve Champion Showperson was Travis Canning of Wellington 4-H, and Honourable Mention went to Chris Stevens of Lambton 4-H Association. Grand Champion Heifer went to Darlene Lobb of Huron 4-H Association, Reserve Champion Heifer went to Travis Canning and Honourable Mention to Linda Franken.

Two competitors in their show outfits
Two competitors in their whites

All in all it was a good day for everyone. “The committee just wanted to put on a good quality 4-H show and have been blown away with the results of the numbers attending, the feedback and the number of counties that have been represented to this date,” Perry explains.  With yet another successful show finished and all exhibitors having learned something new, I think its sufficient to say that the 10th annual BRITESPAN 4-H Dairy Invitational Show was an excellent event! Click to view more photos from the show.

Growing Up in 4-H

Hi everyone! I’m going to take this golden opportunity to introduce myself to you all, my name is Danielle and I am the new Summer Communications Assistant for 4-H Ontario AND the newest blogger for 4-H Folklore! I look forward to sharing the awesome stories of 4-H’rs all over Ontario with you. For my first post I’d like to share the story of the person who inspired me to join the 4-H team, my friend Heather Hargrave. Heather has been involved in 4-H, one way or another, for most of her life. Her family owns an angus cattle farm in Maxwell, Ontario which is how she got started showing cattle. From Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Club to becoming a 4-H Leader, read on as Heather shares her 4-H experiences and how 4-H helped her get where she is today.

Growing Up in 4-H
By Heather Hargrave

Heather HargraveI got my first taste of 4-H before I was old enough to join the program.  My Dad and Uncle had been active in 4-H and showing cattle at fairs across Ontario, so they encouraged my brothers and I to participate in the Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Program at the local Fall Fair; a club for kids who thought they might join 4-H someday. My brothers and I then joined 4-H once we were old enough. The initial reason behind my joining the Dundalk Agriculture Junior Calf Program and 4-H was the responsibility of taking care of an animal, though I also enjoyed going to the fairs and competing.  I can still to this day remember the name of every animal that I looked after for the Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Program and 4-H projects – all 16 of them.

It was nice to have friends that didn’t think I was crazy for getting up at 4 a.m. on a weekend to go to a fair

When I first started in 4-H, the part that I loved most was competing; I liked finishing first whether it was with my calf or in a showmanship class.  As I got older the program became more about the people that were in it; it was nice to have a group of friends in my area, as well as other areas of the province, that had the same interests that I did and didn’t think I was crazy for getting up at 4 a.m. on a weekend to go to a fair.

Heather Hargrave with cow Barbara in 1997
Heather Hargrave at a competition with cow Barbara in 1997

A lot of other good memories happened because of 4-H as well. Growing up, most of our family vacations and weekends in the summer and fall revolved around 4-H shows and showing cattle. Because of this, I’m really close with my two brothers.  We travelled all across Canada together and experienced the wins and the losses together.

There are a lot of skills and lessons I’ve learned from my 4-H experience that I still use today. The judging skills I acquired through 4-H, help me make decisions, formulate reasons why I made that decision, and justify my choices. 4-H also builds leaders and teaches its Members about leadership.  Having the confidence and the skills necessary to take on new challenges is a huge part of personal and professional development.  I find the opportunities and experiences I had in 4-H have given me the confidence to continue to push myself and try new things both personally and in my job.

Heather Hargrave with cow "Roxy" in 2005
Heather Hargrave with cow Roxy in 2005

Today, I’m the Program Coordinator for Farm & Food Care Ontario , a not-for-profit organization that provides information about food and farming. After highschool, when I was trying to decide what to study and which university to attend, my 4-H experience played a big role in my decision making process. The life long passion I have for agriculture which started because of 4-H, lead to me choose to study Agricultural Business at the University of Guelph.  I was hoping to find a career in the industry once I graduated, and that’s just what I did. I’m sure my involvement with 4-H helped me land a job with an organization that I believe is providing a great service to the agriculture industry.

I’ve remained involved with 4-H by becoming a 4-H Leader.  I had been a 4-H Alumnus for two months before I was approached to help lead a Beef Club in Wellington Association.  I really enjoy teaching the kids about different facets of the industry and helping them achieve their goals.  It’s really rewarding for me, as a Leader, to see how much personal growth each Member achieves over the course of the 4-H Club, and to see them succeed in other activities and parts of their lives.  That’s truly what 4-H is all about – growing future leaders.


Share Your 4-H Story4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!