Wilson youth raises grand champion steer

Clarissa Kell | Daily Press MaKenna Hoppa, left, stands with her reserve champion steer Louie, along with Marlee Larson with her grand champion steer Snoopy after the steers were awarded titles at the Beef Cattle Junior Show Tuesday at the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba.

ESCANABA — The grand and reserve champion steers were selected Tuesday during the Beef Cattle Junior Show at the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba.

The junior market steer grand champion is owned by Marlee Larson of Wilson. Representing lower Michigan, MaKenna Hoppa of Fremont, Mich., raised the reserve champion.

“For our junior beef exhibitors, it’s almost a year’s worth of anticipation and hard work for them to be prepared for (Tuesday) morning — this show day,” said Connie Wells, assistant to Beef Barn Superintendent Veronica Wallace.

Wells added there is a lot that goes into preparing a beef steer for the U.P. State Fair Beef Cattle Junior Show.

“This is truly the moment that all of their hard work pays off. It’s a culmination of morning chores, of working through injuries, paying vet bills — complete responsibility for these animals. And then, it’s almost like today is their reward day,” Wells said Tuesday during the show.

Tuesday’s show consisted of showmanship, peewee showmanship, market beef steers, jackpot prospect market beef steers and junior beef breeding.

Judge Danny Davis of Maple Hill, Kan., said he was expecting quality exhibitors, good livestock and an all-around good experience at the fair Tuesday. He will also be judging market hogs today.

Davis grew up raising registered hereford cattle and still has around 80 head at his family farm in Maple Hill.

“I graduated from Kansas State and was on the National Championship Livestock Judging team there,” he said.

Davis, who has been judging for over 20 years, has judged cattle in 13 states at over 250 shows. Of the steers that were judged Tuesday, Davis said he was looking for balance, quality and structurally sound cattle.

“At the end of the show I always appreciate how hard they’ve worked all year and hopefully the kids that get the rewards have worked the hardest. That’s not always the case, but hopefully their hard work pays off,” he said.

Larson, 12, is no stranger to the U.P. State Fair cattle show. She said this year at the fair was her third year showing a steer.

Larson added she’s also showing a jackpot steer in the breed class and a commercial heifer during this year’s fair.

According to Larson, it felt really good winning not only grand champion of the heavy weight division, but overall.

Larson’s steer Snoopy tipped the scales at 1,416 pounds.

When it came to preparing “Snoopy,” Larson said it took some time.

“I did a lot of walking and brushing and training his hair,” Larson said.

Taking home the title of reserve champion was Hoppa’s steer, “Louie,” who weighed in at 1,378 pounds.

Hoppa, 17, said it was her first time showing a steer at the U.P. State Fair.

“It was awesome, it’s our first time showing up here so being able to get reserve champion at our first time showing up here is pretty awesome,” Hoppa said.

In order to prepare, Hoppa said she was up at 5 a.m. Tuesday washing her steer. Hoppa isn’t showing any other livestock at the fair.

“Snoopy” and “Louie” were selected out of the six steers representing grand champion and reserve champion in the three weight divisions.

The steer owned by Kylie Goodman, of Chippewa County, was awarded the title of grand champion in the lightweight steer division, while the steer owned by Parker Johnson, of Menominee County, received reserve. The lightweight steer division consists of steers weighing from 1,003 to 1,196 pounds.

The winners of the medium weight division, or steers weighing 1,205 to 1,280 pounds, were Ethan VanEnkenvort of Menominee County, whose steer won grand champion, and Alexis Strom of Houghton County, whose steer took reserve.

For the heavy weight division for steers weighting 1,301 to 1,445 pounds, Larson’s “Snoopy” received grand champion while Hoppa’s “Louie” took home reserve. The two then took overall grand champion and reserve, respectively.

Before the junior beef market grand champion and reserve grand champion were selected from the first and second place winners of the the different weight classes, the kids were judged on their showmanship.

John Stapleton, a representative for the junior beef department and parent, said the showmanship portion is where the kids go out in the arena to show their cattle, but the cattle themselves are not judged. The kids are judged on how they exhibit their steers they raised.

Wyatt Fuller won overall grand champion of showmanship, while Taryn Hoppa won overall reserve grand champion.

Stapleton explained all of the kids who showed in the light weight, medium weight and heavy weight classes had to participate in the showmanship portion of the show.

Later on in the evening, the Supreme Drive show took place.

Stapleton described this event as the highlight for people in breeding stock.

The cattle judged during this event are breeding stock only, so they are females and calves. The judge goes out and picks the best of the best in the different breeds, then out of those a supreme champion is selected.

For more information on the different livestock judging schedules throughout the week, check out the U.P. State Fair website at upstatefair.net.