Reckers share experiences in the GJCF Beef Show

Sisters Lydia and Halle Recker pose for a picture following Lydia's showing of the Champion Registered Cow/Calf and Supreme Champion Cow/Calf in the 2019 Beef Show at the GJCF. (Express file photo)

Lydia Recker shows off many of her ribbons and plaques she's earned from showing at the GJCF Beef Show over the years. (Photo by Kim Brooks)

Halle Recker is proud of her accomplishments thus far from showing in the GJCF Beef Show. Last summer, she was named Reserve Champion Junior Showman. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Despite a modified version of the 2020 Great Jones County Fair this July, Lydia and Halle Recker are gearing up to bring home some purple ribbons and hardware from this year’s Beef Show.

     Both girls have been showing in the Beef Show since they were in fourth grade. Their older sisters, Marissa and Karli, showed for many years, and now Lydia, who will be a junior at Monticello High School this fall; and Halle, who will attend Monticello Middle School as a seventh-grader, are excelling on their own.

     “We showed in the Kiddie Beef and Kiddie Dairy shows when we were 5 and 6 years old,” said Lydia.

     The Recker girls are excited to still have the opportunity to show their beef cattle at the fair, even things will be a little different due to COVID-19. Typically the livestock remains in the barns all week long. This year, however, the animals will come in and go out in the same day.

     “We always have fun hanging out with our friends in the barns,” said Lydia of past fairs. “But I’m glad we’re still having something because we’ve put in a lot of hard work.”

     The Reckers start working with their cattle in September and October, the fall before the July fair every year. After spending that much time one-on-one with their animals, they become close with them and take pride in showing them off in the show ring at the fair in front of the judge.

     “You start them early when they’re young,” explained Halle of breaking in their cattle. “You teach them to walk and break them with the halter. You train them to walk in place and how to set up.”

     “So you don’t have to fight with them in the ring,” added Lydia.

     The GJCF isn’t the first and only time the Recker girls show beef cattle. They start showing them in November and attend several events before fair week in Monticello.

     There’s a lot that goes into not only preparing themselves for the GJCF, but their livestock as well.

     “It’s basic knowledge and you also learn as you go,” Lydia said. Having learned from their older sisters, Lydia and Halle had some great examples to learn from.

     “You attend shows and listen to what the judges have to say,” continued Lydia.

     It’s not only about physically working with their cattle, but showing them off as well in terms of physique. Halle said that involves grooming, washing, and clipping their cattle.

     “What you feed them also has determines the certain way they look,” added Lydia. “It’s a year-round process to get them to look just right.”

     Both girls said training and working with their animals is a matter of learning what works and what doesn’t over time.

     “It’s what’s best for you,” said Lydia. “Not every heifer or steer is the same.”

     Clearly the Recker girls know what works because they excelled in the Beef Show at the 2019 GJCF. Lydia earned Champion Cow/Calf, Champion Senior Showman, 3rd Honorable Mention Breeding Heifer, and Champion Angus Heifer. Halle took home Reserve Champion Junior Showman.

     Interestingly enough, Lydia showed her cow/calf heifer in 2018 and admitted she didn’t do as well.

     “I was disappointed the year before, so it was nice to get something out of this heifer last year,” she explained.

     One’s success at the fair also comes down to what other 4-H/FFA exhibitors have in terms of cattle/livestock.

     Now that Lydia hit the top spot in the Senior Showman category, she’s ready to take on Master Showman this year.

     “There’s two different things the judges look for in showmanship,” offered Lydia. “”They look at how well you present your animal. You won’t do well if you don’t have a good animal. And they’ll ask you questions about your animal.” She said it’s important to be knowledgeable about your animal.”

     “It also depends on what the judges like in your heifer,” added Lydia.

     Both girls said showing their cattle at the fair brings about a sense of accomplishment.

     “It’s something you’ve worked all year for,” said Lydia.

     The Recker girls stay busy doing chores on their farm outside of Monticello, feeding their cattle and bottle calves. Halle also spends time working with her horses that she plans to show, too, at this summer’s fair.

     “I ride them every day to give them exercise,” she said.

     Both girls are members of the Jones County Central 4-H Club. Lydia is also involved in the Monticello FFA chapter. Despite meeting with their fellow club members via Zoom, they’ve enjoyed all of the fun events and educational experiences 4-H/FFA has offered them through the years.

     “It’s not about how well you do now, but how you do through the whole experience,” explained Lydia of one’s 4-H/FFA experience and excelling in the Beef Show. “It’s the things you learn as a whole and realizing it’s all for nothing.”

     Lydia and Halle Recker are the daughters of Cory and Emily Recker.



Subscriber Login