In the beef barn at The Great Frederick Fair, Samantha Bentz switched off the blower and slipped a bridle on her shorthorn steer, Magic Man, preparing for his big moment Thursday evening.
In a few minutes, Magic Man would head into the ring at the Frederick County 4-H Beef, Sheep & Swine Sale.
Bentz, 16, admitted that the moment would be bittersweet.
Unlike some livestock, steers are a long-term project, so you spend a lot of time with them to get them ready for the fair, she said.
The first steer sold Thursday night was the fair’s grand champion steer, Otis, owned by Jason Baust, 17, of Rocky Ridge, who also had last year’s grand champion.
This year’s animal sold for $6.25 a pound, or, at 1,361 pounds, $8,506.25.
Baust said his steers are fed with grain from a Frederick co-op, and then “all the hay they want.”
Getting a steer ready for the fair means working with them a lot, he said.
You have to get them used to combs, blowers and other things they’ll need for being shown.
“If you can’t show them, it doesn’t matter how good they are,” Baust said.
Inside the arena Thursday night, Cheyenne Van Echo kept an eye on the action.
The Frederick County 4-H queen clapped as various participants showed their animals, talking over the fast-paced rattle of the auctioneer soliciting bids.
The auction seemed more crowded than she remembers from last year, said Cheyenne, 15.
She had sold a hog, which went for $3.50 a pound, earlier in the evening, and she would sell a lamb later that night.
When she started selling, it was hard to say goodbye to an animal.
But now, you know that the animal isn’t going to stay, so you don’t get as attached, she said.
But that doesn’t mean you give it any less attention.
Raising livestock teaches a lot about responsibility, she said.
The animals need to be fed twice a day and cared for regardless of whether you are sick or just don’t feel like it.
“You can’t just not feed your animal,” Cheyenne said.
That’s the kind of work ethic that inspires James Hand, of the contracting company Concrete General, who bought Baust’s champion steer, as well as the reserve grand champion steer owned by Ella Jacobs, of Frederick, at $3.75 a pound.
Hand said the beef from the animals will be given out to his company’s foremen and superintendents.
His family has a long history of supporting the fair, and the kids raising them work hard, he said.
“These 4-H’ers are good kids,” he said.