For the second year in a row, Big Walnut teen Abby Facemyer took home the honor of Grand Champion Market Beef at the Delaware County Fair.
Facemyer, 17, and her steer, Red, were awarded the title Monday during the fair.
The grand champion exhibitor said Tuesday she was so excited to have won the competition again, adding she’s been raising one to two steers a year for competition in the Hartford Fair in Licking County and for competition in the Delaware County Fair for the past six years.
Red, a year-and-a-half old shorthorn, and Facemyer have been together since September 2018. Since then, Facemyer has been feeding, tending, training, and cleaning him every day.
Facemyer said she spends a lot of time on Red’s hair, which people might not expect.
“It’s really important actually, people don’t realize that,” she said. “He has a lot of hair, because I worked with it a ton. We have facilities that we can work with it in the winter, then you want to blow it and get their hair standing up. If they have any sort of flaw, the hair can make up for it.”
Facemyer added now that Red is grown, she feeds him about 30 pounds of food a day, which is only 2.5% of his body weight.
“The feed bill is pretty expense,” Facemyer said. “People think during the sale you make money, but you don’t really make money because there’s so much money and time invested into it. It’s one of the more challenging projects, and that’s why I like it, it really pays off in the end when you get to show them. Everyone else doesn’t always know how much work you put into it, but it just feels good to know that you worked towards the rewards.”
Facemyer said last year she won with a white-haired shorthorn, which she worked meticulously to keep it clean.
“I was pretty confident in winning last year,” Facemyer said. “With white hairs, you have to go over them and over them to get all the dirt out.”
Facemyer said despite winning last year, she was nervous going into the competition this time around.
“This year, I looked through the barn and there were quite a few nice ones, and I really just didn’t know,” Facemyer said. “I won my class, and there were five in the final drive and the judge kept looking back between me and (the steer chosen as reserve). I couldn’t tell if he already had his grand (champion) picked out and was just looking for a second. I was nervous, but super excited when I won.”
Facemyer said raising and winning with Red exemplifies what she loves about 4-H.
“It’s a challenging project, and it takes everyone,” Facemyer said. “Everyone is around to help. ‘Hey can you help me walk my cow?’ or getting it washed or if you need a trailer. Everybody works together to help each other out. It’s all like a big family. I’m thankful for all of the support from everyone and for all the help that everybody has provided to get to this point. The hard work really pays off.”
Facemyer is a senior at Big Walnut High School. Because of the way 4-H calculates age, she could do the competition for two more years, but Facemyer added she isn’t sure if she’ll do it both years.
“I’ll do at least one more year, but I’m not sure about it when I’m in college,” she said.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.