The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) Beef Exhibitor Show Total (BEST) Program is excited to celebrate 25 years of the program with this year’s theme “Cheers to the BEST 25 Years” alongside sponsoring partners: Robbins Show Cattle, Ag-Pro, Bob Evans Farms, Diamond T Land & Cattle Co, Giulitto Trucking LLC, M.H. EBY Inc., Performance Training Solutions, Ricer Equipment, Shepard Cattle Company/Six R Farms, Weaver Livestock, The Folks Printing, Dickson Cattle Co., Jones Show Cattle, and RD Jones Excavating.
BEST is a youth development program of OCA that recognizes Ohio’s junior beef exhibitors for participation and placings through a series of sanctioned cattle shows that include showmanship competitions, educational contests, leadership opportunities and community service. Juniors earn points for participation in each sanctioned show which they are rewarded for at the end-of-season awards banquet.
The schedule for this year’s season is as follows:
- Mardi Gras Masquerade, Circleville — Nov. 17-19
- AGR Holiday Classic, Columbus — Dec. 8-10
- Saddle and Sirloin Spectacular, Circleville — Dec. 29-31
- Scarlet & Gray Midwest Showdown, Columbus — Jan. 5-7
- Clark County Cattle Battle, Springfield — Jan. 26-28
- DTS Cupid Classic, Circleville — Feb. 9-11
- Holmes County Preview, Millersburg — March 1-3
- Ohio Beef Expo, Columbus — March 14-17
- BEST Banquet, Columbus — May 4
Participants 8-years-old as of Jan. 1, 2024, but no older than 21 years as of age as of Jan. 1, 2024, are eligible to accumulate OCA BEST points. Exhibitors must be Ohio residents with the exception of Buckeye Breeders Series (BBS) eligible cattle. Those exhibiting BBS cattle are eligible to accumulate BEST points regardless of state of residency.
Juniors or the junior’s family must be a current member of OCA. The OCA membership must be in the name of the BEST participant’s immediate family. OCA family memberships are $75 and include12 months of service. Exhibitors showing cattle at a BEST sanctioned how, but not participating in the BEST program, must also have an OCA membership.
A nomination fee is also required for each animal a junior enters in the BEST program. The one-time $60 nomination fee allows the animal to accumulate points at any OCA BEST sanctioned show. The nomination fee must be paid before the start of the show where the exhibitor plans to accumulate points. Online nomination and entries must be completed for each participant and animal and may be submitted prior to or during check-in at a BEST sanctioned show.
Exhibitors must be Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified to participate in the BEST program. BQA certification is available through in-person trainings at certain BEST shows, bqa.org or yqca.org. BEST participants that attended an in-person BQA training last BEST season (2022-2023) are certified for three years from the date they attended training.
ALL cattle showing at a BEST sanctioned show in-state and out-of-state MUST be tagged with an electronic identification (EID) ear tag prior to arriving at their first BEST show. Visit best.ohiocattle.org to learn more about applying for a farm’s Premise ID before ordering EID tags. EID Tags are available through the OCA office.
ALL cattle, heifers and steers, exhibited at an OCA BEST sanctioned show are required to be tested and negative for Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) persistent infection (PI) status. All animals must have a negative BVD test to be exhibited at any OCA BEST sanctioned show. More information regarding proper testing can be found at ohiocattle.org/BEST.
Buckeye Breeders Series
BBS is Ohio’s premier bred, born and raised division of BEST that rewards both exhibitors and breeders for their participation with registered steers and heifers from an Ohio seedstock breeder. This division will have a separate set of points to be accumulated for exhibitors throughout the season.
Out-of-state exhibitors will be eligible for BEST only if they exhibit a BBS eligible animal.
At the end of the season, exhibitors will be entered in a drawing for a year’s use of a livestock trailer, donated by M.H. EBY. Breeders will be entered in a drawing for a year’s use of a John Deere Gator, donated by Ag-Pro.
Learn more about BBS and the nomination procedures for this division at ohiocattle.org/BEST.
Youth development, education and academics outside of the ring
The BEST program includes the Stockmanship Division to allow exhibitors with or without cattle to showcase their talent outside of the ring by expanding their knowledge of cattle and the industry.
The Stockmanship contests for this year are as follows:
- Prepared Speaking — Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, at 9 a.m.
- Cattlemen’s Challenge Competition (OCA’s version of a skill-a-thon) — Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, at 9 a.m.
- Salesmanship — Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, at 9 a.m.
- Fitting Contest — Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, at 6 p.m.
- Judging Contest — held at the Ohio Beef Expo, Columbus, Friday, March 15, 2024
A photography competition is also offered to help BEST exhibitors increase their communication skills. Multiple $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to BEST participants pursuing an agriculture related post-high school degree. These will be awarded based on academics and extracurricular activities for high school juniors and seniors.
OCA and Weaver Leather Livestock will team up to recognize individuals that show exceptional leadership and character no matter their age. Any OCA member, BEST participant or their parents may nominate other cattlemen, breeders and exhibitors for any of the Character Trait categories. The 2023-24 Character Trait categories will be announced soon.
BEST participants are encouraged to apply for the youth positions on the BEST committee. BEST Jr. Representatives serve a two-year term and are selected through an application and interview process. Jr. Representative applications are due April 1 and interviews will be held in the spring leading up to the BEST banquet.
The OCA BEST Program is teaming up with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio (RMHC) for the 2023-24 BEST community service project. RMHC’s mission is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.
BEST participants will be encouraged to collect pop tabs throughout the season and turn them in at the BEST banquet in May. All money raised will be donated to RMHC.
In addition to the pop tabs collection, the popular Celebrity Showdown, benefiting RMHC, will take place this year on January 26, 2024, in Springfield. Participants will raise at least $100 to participate and parade their animal and costume around the ring for a special celebrity judge.
Awards and recognition
The BEST banquet will be held at the end of the season and will recognize participant’s achievements in all the above-mentioned areas. Over $150,000 worth of prizes, giveaways, scholarships, etc. will be awarded.
Each year, one lucky BEST participant is also awarded a year’s use of a livestock trailer donated by M.H. EBY.
The Novice Division of BEST includes first through third year participants. All Novice exhibitors will have an entry into their own drawing for a show box donated by Weaver Livestock Leather, for every animal they showed at each show throughout the season.
Participants will create their own unique account to make nominations for the BEST program at best.ohiocattle.org. The site will be open for nominations at the beginning of November.
For more information about the BEST program, visit ohiocattle.org/BEST, join the OCA BEST Program Facebook group, or contact the office at 614-873-6736.