Tonganoxie sisters ready for fair’s livestock competitions
It took Paige Dickey two years to master the tendencies of her calf, Bruiser.
When Paige first was getting acclimated with Bruiser, the calf would do his own thing, with little regard for Paige's caretaking.
"I was walking my calf around the pond we have, and it suddenly got crazy and started running, but I didn't want to let go, because it would have run down the road," Paige said. "So it was just pulling me across the lawn and I was just hanging on."
Eventually, Paige got the calf under control and wasn't injured. She just had a few grass stains on her clothes. She jokes about the incident now.
With the help of her father, Steve, her mother, Wendy, and her younger sister Hanna, Paige kept gaining showmanship experience.
Two years later, Paige won the grand champion showmanship award at the 2005 Leavenworth County Fair. Last year, she won the reserve, or runner-up, award.
She'll look to continue her streak of top-place finishes at this year's fair with a bucket calf she calls Beast. The bucket calf, at the time of the fair, will weigh in between 400 and 500 pounds.
Hanna, 9, will also show her bucket calf, Moo-Moo. Hanna won a reserve showmanship award in 2006, her first year of showing.
There's more that goes into the competition than simply showing up with the animal.
"You're showing yourself and your calf off the whole time," Paige said. "You want to look nice. You don't want to wear a hat when you're showing because the judges like to see your eyes."
It's an educational experience, too. Participants have to memorize roughly 30 body parts to the calf for the consultation portion of the competition.
The Dickeys have lived in Tonganoxie for nine years. Steve said the family took interest in the fair because many of Paige's schoolmates were 4-H'ers.
Paige has been participating in the fair for five years.
Furthermore, Steve has experience showing steers from his days at Lawrence High School in the '80s. He's passed his knowledge to Paige and Hanna.
"My favorite part is watching the girls when they actually go into the show ring and get to display all the hard work they've put into it," Steve said.
Paige and Hanna will also show pigs. Paige's female pigs are called Bacon and Sausage. Hanna's female pig is called Porky and her male pig is called Oinkers.
In her first year at the fair last year, Hanna was a grand champion in the pig showmanship competition. This year, she's hoping to repeat, but it takes hard work. Waking up at 7 a.m. would be the first step.
"My pig is overweight, so I have to pretty much walk him all the time," Hanna said. "I also have to watch him eat, so he doesn't eat the other pigs' food. Then, you have to teach him how to walk, because if you don't, he'll just be running around the pen."
Paige and Hanna will also take part in several other events at the fair.