By Matt Reese
Many people understand the excitement and appeal as the judge strolls down the line looking over the cattle to make a decision that will change the life of a young, hopeful exhibitor with the slap of his hand.
Cattle shows are, for some, a highlight of their year, through a large portion of the state’s population does not know a halter from a show stick. That will change for a few Ohio celebrities on July 30 with the inaugural Dean’s Charity Steer Show at 2:00 p.m. in the Voinovich Building at the Ohio State Fair. For the event, celebrity exhibitors — including some who never set foot in a show ring — will be paired with Ohio 4-H members to try their hand at showing a steer and vying for the judge’s eye.
The idea got started in a meeting with Cathann Kress, Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University and Leslie Bumgarner who sits on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.
“Leslie wanted to do something for a fundraiser. There are golf outings and galas, and other things but she thought it would be fun to do something different. I suggested to her that we do a steer show and, honestly, I think she thought I’d lost my mind,” Kress said. “When I was in Iowa, the governor had done a steer show for the Ronald McDonald Houses there. So it seemed like a natural fit here. I was interested in doing it because I thought it allowed a number of things I care a lot about to all come together — a passion for agriculture, getting to share agriculture with people, the focus on children both with the Ronald McDonald House and the involvement of the 4-H program, and the involvement of our community that I knew would come together and be supportive. So far it appears that will be the case. We’re all just going to have a lot of fun and we are delighted with the response we are getting.”
The list of celebrity exhibitors includes former Ohio State University basketball standout, NBA player and announcer Clark Kellogg, the former first lady of Ohio State football Shelley Meyer, sportscaster for the Columbus Blue Jackets Bob McElligott, and Rick Malir, the CEO of City Barbeque.
“We have some celebrity exhibitors who are well known to the agricultural community, like Adam Sharp with Ohio Farm Bureau. We’ll have other people who have never shown a steer in their life such as several news anchors and others. We will also have public officials. There will be some people who are very at home in the steer show ring — some people not so much,” Kress said. “Some exhibitors will be familiar with agriculture and for some people this will be their first experience learning about what we do in agriculture and maybe even their first time at the State Fair.”
The cattle will be provided by 4-H members at the Ohio State Fair.
“We asked the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association to help us identify 4-H families who would be willing to be a part of the celebrity exhibitors’ teams. The way this works is the 4-H families make their steer available to the celebrity and the 4-H member will also be a part of the team in the show ring with the exhibitor,” Kress said. “For example, my 4-H family is the family of Wyatt Osborn. He just turned 12 years old. His steer, Mr. Ranger, is the steer I am going to show. Wyatt will be with me in the ring.”
Judges will select winners in three categories: best steer, showmanship and people’s choice.
“After the show we will have a mock sale. No one will actually buy a steer but we are going to have an auction so people can see what an auction is like and all of the money is going to the Ronald McDonald House as donations,” Kress said. “Donors can donate online right now and give money in general or give money to one exhibitor or the other. We will also have kiosks set up at the Voinovich Center that day and you can make a donation through that too.”
No matter which celebrity exhibitor comes out on top, participants are hoping the event will be a big win in many ways.
“I have asked the celebrity exhibitors to invite 20 people to come with them to the State Fair, donate and cheer for the show. It is a great way for the audiences that maybe are not so familiar with the cattle industry to see what happens at the State Fair and understand a little more about agriculture in general. It is to have fun, raise money and raise awareness. And, maybe there will be some people in the audience who see this and think that 4-H is for their family,” Kress said. “If we do this right there will be a whole lot of winners.”
Hopefully the biggest winner, though, is the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio (RMHC). The mission of RMHC is to create, find, and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children and their families. Located across the street from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, the Ronald McDonald House serves as a home-away-from-home for families while a child is hospitalized. More than 4,500 families use the facility each year with 82,000 nights of lodging provided. The Columbus facility is the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world with 137 guest rooms and 120,000 square feet of kitchens, dining areas, play rooms, laundry facilities, a meditation room, exercise room, and informal gathering areas. The RMHC provides some comfort for families going through some truly challenging experiences while traveling for the medical care their children need. To find out more visit rmhc-centralohio.org.
Volunteers are still needed to help make the Dean’s Charity Steer Show a success.
“Contact our office or the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association if you want to work with us leading up to the show and the day of,” she said. “If you want to watch the show, come to the State Fair on July 30. That is also the same day as the legislative event and the Ohio Pork Rib-Off. We encourage people to make a day of it and go to all three events.”
There is a practice session on campus leading up to the show where the celebrities can meet the 4-H families and get some showmanship pointers prior to the big day. Dean Kress has already been practicing, though, hoping for a chance to catch the attention of the judge on the day of the show.
“I went to the Beef Expo earlier this year and showed with Wyatt at the Junior Show,” she said. “And that is where he told me I needed to work on my showmanship.”
The Dean’s Charity Steer Show is coordinated by The Ohio State University, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Telhio Credit Union and the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association. Find out more and make a donation today at cfaes.osu.edu/deanscharitysteershow. Ohio Ag Net will be live streaming the Dean’s Charity Steer Show on July 30 at ocj.com.