1,400 pounds of life lessons: Butler teens learn from champion steers

Teenager Micayla McClure has a mentor different than most, a 1,406-pound steer.

Micayla credits her steer – “Stubby” – with helping her learn responsibility and “every life lesson most kids don’t get taught nowadays.”

On Wednesday, Stubby taught Micayla what it’s like to be a champion after the high school junior’s animal won the top Grand Champion prize for market steers at the Butler County Fair.

It’s the first-time she has won the top award, and afterward she smiled broadly while hosing down her now champion steer.

It's a scene repeated numerous times each day for teens and youngsters with show animals during the week-long county fair, which runs through Saturday. The fair also features dozens of games, rides and exhibits.

“I came for the competition and it felt good. I felt like all my hard work paid off,” Micayla said, referring to rising at 4:30 a.m. every day to feed and tend to Stubby.

After school soccer practice, Micayla would work on the steer in the evening hours.

Nearby in the Butler County Fair’s Steer Barn, her mother looked on proudly.

Cyndi McClure-Hoerst is grateful for the impact the massive steer has had on her girl.

“ She checks on her animals throughout the day to make sure they are in the health condition they need to be in,” said McClure-Hoerst.

“It’s a very dedicated thing she does. It’s every single day, and you don’t get any weekends off,” she said.

In another part of the fair’s steer barn,, Talawanda High School senior Jacob Schlichter happily brushes the shiny coat of what is now his first Grand Champion steer.

Jacob has been showing animals at the fair for years but never won a top award. But this was his breakout year, having won five Grand Champion honors for various animals.

“It’s exciting and it feels pretty good,” said the 17-year-old Jacob, who like many of the youth participants is a long-time 4H member.

His mother, Christie Schlichter, said, “His ultimate dream was to get into the Grand Showman Contest they will do Friday, and now he has that opportunity.”

Schlichter’s family has been coming to the county fair, which last year drew more than 65,000, since the 1960s.

Jacob’s run of top finishes this year comes after a year of combining school – where he maintains a 4.0 GPA – a part-time job at a nursing home and many long hours in the family barn.

“He wants to veterinarian when he goes to college,” she said of Jacob.

Jerry Bittner, treasurer for Butler County Agricultural Society and one of the officials overseeing the annual fair, said many of the teens in the animal competitions are focused on college.

The champion animals are often auctioned off and “a lot of the kids will take the money from the sale of their animals and use it toward paying for their college,” said Bittner.

INFO: Call Senior Fair Board Office at 513-892-1423 or go to www.butlercountyohfair.org

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