BILLINGS - At MontanaFair, a lot must happen before a show steer will end up in the show ring, but for one 4-H girl from Shepherd, it’s turned into a lot more than all of that prep work. It’s really a lifestyle, even a sport.
It's all part of a winning formula for 16-year-old Kaydin Kumpula as she travels the country with a can of cattle hairspray and her coach, Dan Vanek.
"The pink oil pretty much conditions the skin, keeping it from getting dry, oils that hair, gives them a nice shiny coat," Kumpula said.
Vanek said the experience is good Kumpula and others like her.
"It's a great opportunity for a lot of kids to get them involved in something like basketball, football, track, baseball, whatever it is. But with showing, it's something we get to do year-round. These kids have one activity and that's going to shows," he said.
Also, winning shows. MontanaFair is one of the last stops on the circuit for Kumpula and her steer, Loki. No surprise, she took home grand champion market steer and senior showmanship- first place.
"If you help a kid and help them pursue their dreams, they will pursue it. If you got a basketball coach, he’s going to be behind those kids, and try to get them as involved as they can into basketball and we’re trying to do the same thing with showing," Vanek said.
Vanek Club Calves in Silesia is known nationwide for their strong bloodline, selling award-winning show calves at its annual auction each fall…for an average of $4,000.
"We got steers right now anywhere from Florida to California, texas. We got phone calls from Virginia, Maine, looking at coming to the sale this year," he said.
The steers have held up. The one show the calf was in, there was 270 head, and he was reserve champion. Meaning he was second best.
That steer was Loki, and so far, he’s taken at least 10 winning backdrop photos with Kumpula, from Montana to South Dakota and Colorado and Utah.
"This is my whole life. This is all I do. I wake up at 6 a.m., wash and blow, feed my steers and then I let them sit in the cool room all day long, then I get them up about 7, 8 o’clock at night. I wash and blow them again, I feed them and then I take them out and I walk them around and practice with them," Kumpula said.