A Dawn-Euphemia teen and his bovine friend has won a big honour at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
Elliot Smith, 12, Huffs Corners was named the National Junior Beef Heifer Showman Champion along with his purebred Speckled Park named Prairie Lily. Smith and his sister, Nadine, were in the “any other breed” with eight other showmen last week.
Prairie Lily was Smith’s 4-H project this year. He traveled all around Lambton County entering competitions at the fairs in Petrolia, Wyoming, Forest and Brigden and doing well. All that prepared the pair for “The Royal.”
The Royal is the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world. It is where Canadian and international breeders, growers and exhibitors are declared champions.
Smith says the judges look at the quality of the animal but they also want to know how the showman and the heifer interact together. That may have been the key because Smith and Prairie Lily are close. “We have become close friends because we spend a lot of time together.”
And he worked hard to make sure she looked beautiful for the big event. “We used fresh wood shavings in their pen the week leading up to The Royal because letting them out in the straw, their white (hide) will turn to yellow.”
He also takes a lot of time making sure Prairie Lily’s hide is shiny and clean, washing and blow-drying frequently.
But all the work paid off. Smith, who had only shown at The Royal once before, says winning was incredible.
Smith says when the judge pointed him to the winner’s circle “I thought, ‘oh man, maybe I’m in first.’ Then I saw my dad jump 10 feet in the air and he scared the heifer behind him. I knew then ‘oh my gosh I actually won and then I started to cry.”
While The Royal is the end of the cattle showing season, Smith and Prairie Lily will be back again. He says Prairie Lily will be bred and then he will take her back in the ring with her calf.