ESCANABA - The grand champion and reserve champion of this year's beef cattle junior show at the U.P. State Fair were named Tuesday. The grand champion steer was raised by Denham Miron of Escanaba and the reserve champion steer was raised by Justin Ernest of Powers.
"I'm looking for the end product to be the ideal beef animal. An individual animal that both has some eye appeal but more importantly under the skin, under the hide product," explained Neil Hannon, beef cattle junior show judge.
Miron's and Ernest's steers were selected by Hannon from nearly 100 steers raised by youths between the ages of 9 and 19. All of the steers entered into the competition were born after Jan. 1, 2012.
Denham Miron shows off his 1,375-pound steer, Jimmy, which was named the grand champion steer at the U.P. State Fair Tuesday. (Daily Press photo by Ilsa Matthes)
Miron has been showing steers for the past five years - and exclusively showing steers for the past three years - but winning the highest title awarded to a steer with the 1,375 pound "Jimmy" was a bit of a shock for the 15-year-old from just outside Escanaba.
"It hasn't really set in yet but hopefully it will soon," he said immediately following the win.
Everyday Miron spent roughly three-and-a-half hours working with Jimmy to transform him into the steer that was shown in Tuesday's competition. Despite the time commitment, Miron has no complaints.
"At home it's really fun working with him everyday. I have to wash him and rinse him three times a day to keep his hair from falling out," said Miron. "I'm working with him all the time, so it became my life."
Miron's grand champion title is not the first in his family. Last year, his younger brother, Dayton Miron, took home the title with a 1,360 pound steer named Ben.
While Miron has been raising and showing steers for five years, Buddy, the 1,275 pound reserve champion steer, was 15-year-old Ernest's first entry in the junior beef competition.
"This is my first year showing steers. I showed lambs for like seven years first though," he said, adding he enjoyed the steer competition more than showing lambs.
Ernest, a resident of Powers, also expressed a special thanks to the Zawacki family. In addition to being longtime family friends, the Zawackis allowed Ernest to raised the steer at their farm.
"A lot of people helped me," said Ernest in reference to the Zawacki family and other family and friends that supported him while he raised Buddy.
When asked how it feels to do so well in the steer competition his first year competing, Ernest simply replied, "It feels good."
In addition to judging 28 competitions last year - some of which included hundreds of steers - Hannon, his wife, and his children were all involved in 4-H. To Hannon, Miron, Ernest, and the other youth competing in the junior beef show are helping to ensure a stable food supply both for the United States and other parts of the world.
"These people are going to be the future of our agriculture world ... They're going to be our leaders of tomorrow, and it's so important to me that they carry on," said Hannon of all the participants in Tuesday's competition.