BOZEMAN, Mont. - People come to ride the rides and enjoy a funnel cake or corn dog. But another big draw at the Gallatin County Fair? The animals. Cows and chickens raised by the next generation of Montana farms and ranches.
NBC Montana visited some of the young competitors today to see what takes to keep these skills alive for generations.
11-year-old Brienna Russell did some final grooming Thursday, just moments before bringing her pig out of the pen at the 4-H youth swine showmanship competition.
"And hope our pigs are disciplined enough," Brienna Russell laughed.
Brienna has been involved with 4-H and raising animals since she was 5, starting with chickens. She is now learning what it takes to raise a pig worthy of making it's way to market.
"We sell them at an auction for market," said Russell, "So they're looking for the big enough meat to sell so people will want that meat."
Brienna is at the Gallatin County Fair with her mother Lisa Russell. Lisa tells me there family has a long history of farming and ranching. And says 4-H projects are important to make sure young farmers and ranchers learn the skills to continue the trade.
"They are food products," explained Lisa Russell, "So we're very proud of them to be able to raise a food product at that young of an age."
Skills like proper feeding, care and grooming of farm animals are being learned by many youngsters at the fair.
Trista Bates spent over a year raising her steer. She just got home to Bozeman after visiting a national competition in Indianapolis last week.
"There were 1,600 head of cattle there from juniors all over the U.S.," said Bates. She says it's exciting to take what she's learned there back home to share to friends in Montana.
"Just kind of help them grow into just...step them up another level," explained Bates.
Lisa Russell says it's exciting to see her children and other kids involved in agriculture to continue a Montana tradition.
"I do hope many of these kids do grow up to be in the agriculture business...It's good for thing for them to be started young and have activities," said Russel.