Sublette County Fair 2017
by Terry Allen
July 31, 2017
Seth Stoutenburg is a man of few words or maybe he just guards his beef raising secrets well. When I asked him how he had earned a first place with Gus in the Bred and Raised class he answered simply, "I picked him out of the herd and fed him."
For Matazi Landers, this was her first year raising a steer. His name is Apollo. "I just talked to him a lot," she said. "He was a nursed cow. He had lost his Mother so we put him with a dairy cow and they took to each other. I spent so much time with him he’s almost a member of the family." Her Dad, Coke Landers, knows I don’t know a lot about ranching life so he helped me understand the process for Matazi’s first year. "The Bred and Raised class is for the local kids who are showing local calves," he said. "We wanted a gentle one to learn on in the first year, but next year we’re going to select something different."
Gavin Masters and his sister Brooklyn chose to raise a Boer goat. These are generally for eating. "They can be a little hard to sell," said Brooklyn, "but that’s what we signed up for. The best thing about them is they’re friendly." "The hard part is getting them to pose for the judges because goats are very short on patience and attention span," said Gavin.
Brooke Noble had enlisted half a dozen friends to hold down her goat Arlo so she could feed him his vitamins. It looked like she was feeding him chocolate syrup so I didn’t understand why he was fighting so hard. "The vitamins are in molasses and he doesn’t like molasses at all," she said.
Heather Noble proudly posed with her pig Piggy Le Pew. "He’s a Hampshire cross, 5 months old and 268 pounds," she said. "I raised 4 pigs, but two didn’t make the weight, because the two bigger pigs ate all the food. They weighed only 209 and 211."
Danielle Jones won the top prize for her steer. "He went out onto public grazing lands at 2 months of age," she said. He survived whatever predators there were around. We don’t have quite as many wolves and grizzly down where he was raised but it is still no easy life." I asked Danielle how she had selected her calf to raise. "We look at hundreds of cows a day because we ride every day," she said. "We are judging every day, so pretty soon you get to know the qualities you are looking for and get as many of those qualities in one calf as you can. That’s the one you pick to raise. The one I picked this year was big boned, wide and deep and hairy and had a nice shaped quarter muscle." The secret to showing your steer well is just to be with them all the time." Joseph Jones, Danielle’s father, said retaining public grazing rights is key to ranching success and preserving a way of life. "It is a challenging way of life up here for both ranchers and cattle," said Joseph. "Danielle’s steer was born in a mud puddle on a cold day."
I hope you all got a chance to go thru the Art Barn. I think this year’s exhibits were the best I’ve seen. I took a few shots of some that caught my eye, but please forgive me for the reflections or bad cropping; there were lights and windows everywhere.
In the shade over at the Stock Dog trials were some ladies and their dogs under a shade canopy. There I met Ike (pronounced sort of like "oink"). Ike is an Australian Kelpie owned by Colleen. "In Australia they hunt in packs or mobs or teams," she said. "Ike specializes in sheep, goats and ducks of the non-flying type." I gave her a sideways eye to see if she was pulling my leg but she quickly followed up with, "They like Ike, he’s a kind dog."
Kailey Barlow, the Fair Manager, introduced me to a few of the band members that were going to play on the big stage later in the evening. I didn’t know this, but the Fair hires a stage company to set up the stage complete with lights and speakers, etc.…then all the band has to do is plug their instruments in and maybe change out a drum set. The bands arrived in huge luxury buses, one from Cheyenne and one from Paso Robles in California. I was surprised at how many people it took to put on a show.
I went over to the Punchers Robotics building and got some shoots of this year’s robots and they let me get in the way of the balls and Frisbee’s the robots launched at like 80 mph, so I could try to get a shot or two.
Then I met these kids from Utah who had started their own business. They sold swords, airplanes, fart bags and Laffy Taffy. Waaait…back up a minute. Fart bags? One of their Moms just looked at me and shrugged. I had to ask where were the bigger farters from, Utah or Wyoming? "For sure Wyoming," one of them said. "But we are working on it." That’s when I noticed these young entrepreneurs were all making peanut butter sandwiches right in their office. Peanuts are technically beans, right? See ya’ guys! Look at the photo if you don’t believe me. These guys are scientists!
Lacey Olson and her friends were playing in a water and sand table installed by the Conservation District. Rain was falling high in the mountains on the tilted table and then the water seeped thru the sand and emerged as springs further down the table. They played there the whole day.
I met Jakobi Hibbert with her Shaggy Suffolk cross lamb who weighed 145 pounds. "I run with him a lot," she said. "I practice showing him a lot; and feed him three pounds of good feed a day that has lots of protein in it."
At the local kids exhibits in the Commercial building my eye just happened to fall on Jakobi’s name attached to some beautiful photography. Then I noticed other of the young people I had met in the livestock area…McKenna Carnahan (a member of Sisters in Stitches) and Jeni Snidicor to name just a few. Photography, painting, quilting, welding, rock art were just a few of the many fine examples showing the broad range of skills these young people have.
Danny is the Crocodile Man…he has 45 of them. He is also the Snake Man…he has 90 of those. He has a Snapping turtle he guesses is 125 years old. That means it was born in 1892…400 years after Columbus landed. 1892 is the year Ellis Island opened to immigrants, the first Auroral photograph was made, the first basketball game was played and Coca Cola started their company. That turtle may have seen a lot.
I spoke with David Pape as the Beef Sale was close to winding up. I mentioned that I had seen Colonel Sanders push in a wheel barrel full of chickens and it had gone for $725.00. David smiled. "The sale is to support and encourage the kids in the 4-H and FFA programs," he said. "They learn what it takes to produce a good product. The beef they raise is like grain fed. It’s very good."
I like interviewing the kids in these programs. They don’t act much like kids, though. They look me in the eye as I ask my questions; and politely and patiently answer them. They know what they are talking about and I can tell they know that I don’t know all that much. But I always walk away knowing more than I did; and every time I talk to a 4-H or FFA member I get a good feeling that these young Americans have already taken ownership and responsibility in our great land.
Thanks to Dawn Ballou at Pinedale Online for hiring me to do this story. If you'd like me to do a story of your event, let me or Dawn know.
The low rez images on this story may be shared/used for personal use. Hi rez images may be purchased at family friendly rates. Terry: firstname.lastname@example.org