South Dakota legislators show beef at state fair | TSLN.com

South Dakota legislators show beef at state fair

4-H youth and “coach” Mitch Prouty holds his Limousin heifer, while SD Rep. Paula Hawks accepts her belt buckle in front of the banner a the South Dakota State Fair Legislative Beef Show. A crowd of supporters looks on. Photo courtesy S.D. Department of Agriculture

The South Dakota State Fair has come and gone, and while ranchers may be busy preparing for weaning and harvest, there are still plenty of good memories to reflect from the state's annual event held in Huron, S.D.

One of those memories is the fifth annual Legislative Beef Showmanship, hosted by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA), South Dakota State University (SDSU), 4-H and FFA. In a nutshell, the event is a fun, friendly showmanship competition that pairs legislators with a youth livestock exhibitor from their district. The 4-H youth helps the legislator prepare for the competition with a crash course in showing basics. Then, the legislators face off in a showmanship contest.

Ty Eschenbaum, SDDA value-added agriculture marketing specialist, helped to organize the annual event and reflects on how this event helps to bridge the gap between urban and rural South Dakota.

"I think in a state like South Dakota, where agriculture is our number one industry, we still forget how much of our population doesn't live on a farm," he said. "That reality also holds true for our state's legislators. They need to know a lot about agriculture when making decisions in Pierre. Working directly with 4-H youth shows legislators how much goes into these projects and how hard these kids work on their livestock. It's also good for these kids to spend some time with our state's leaders and get a feel for what they do on a day-to-day basis. We encourage the 4-H youth to ask questions along with teaching the legislators about the agriculture industry."

“This event truly is a great way to connect our 4-H youth leaders with our state’s legislative leaders.”

Ty Eschenbaum, SDDA value-added agriculture marketing specialist

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Judging this year's event was Wayne Williamson of Yankton and Staci Wolf of Winner. Lucas Lentsch, SDDA Secretary, served as the event's master of ceremonies. SDSU Dean Barry Dunn asked questions of the participants. The 2012 winner, Senator Shantel Krebs, helped out in the ring, and a dozen legislators learned the ropes of showing cattle with 4-H youth from their area.

District 9 Representative Paula Hawks from Hartford was named Champion of the Legislative Beef Show at the South Dakota State Fair. Hawks was coached by 4-H livestock exhibitor Mitch Prouty, son of Mark and Donna Prouty of Hamlin County. For her efforts, Hawks received a gold belt buckle and will have her name engraved on the "Legislative Showmanship Champion" traveling trophy.

"The awards were presented on the Grandstand stage at the state fair before the evening's performance of the Eli Young Band," said Eschenbaum. "The winning youth partner also receives a prize and recognition for their efforts. Secretary Lentsch will also present the award during the legislative session in Pierre. This year's event was definitely a success. It was evident that the crowd was much larger this year than in previous years. It's a lighthearted event that a lot of folks enjoy."

Other legislators participating in the event included: Sen. Larry Rhoden, Union Center; Sen. Jim White, Huron; Sen. Chuck Welke, Warner; Sen. Tim Begalka, Clear Lake; Rep. Burt Tulson, Lake Norden; Rep. Mary DuVall, Pierre; Rep. Dick Werner, Huron; Rep. Peggy Gibson, Huron; Rep. Charlie Hoffman, Eureka; Rep. Karen Soli, Sioux Falls; and Rep. Kathy Tyler, Big Stone City.

The 4-H youth who coached the legislators included: Jacob, Mikayla and Mitch Prouty, Chloey Hansen, Alexa Montagne, Lane Jorgenson, Lizzie Hansen, Michael Anderson, Clint and Tara Coplan, Spencer Hovde, and Tate Bergh.

"The event is sponsored by First Dakota National Bank and the South Dakota Cattlemen's Beef Association, who help support the event through the prizes, as well as a beef sandwich dinner for the 4-H youth, the legislators and their families," he added. "This event truly is a great way to connect our 4-H youth leaders with our state's legislative leaders."