As far as showing livestock goes, competitions don’t get much bigger than the American Royal Livestock Show, held annually in Kansas City, Missouri. Debuting in 1899 as The National Hereford Show, it has grown into one of the premier livestock shows in the country. Competitors, breeders, animal enthusiasts and more come from all over the country to take in this annual experience of showing cattle, hogs, sheep and goats.
One of the goals of the show is to make an impact on the future of agriculture by providing scholarships and an educational atmosphere for the students who take part.
For Kelton Arthur, a fifth-grader at Ripley Elementary and member of the Ripley 4-H group, the American Royal proved to be a very successful show. The 10-year-old son of Blayne and Jerrod Arthur of Stillwater, Kelton showing his Charolais Heifer led to Breed Champion Charolais Honors in the Junior Charolais show and then won Supreme Champion Female over all breeds, the first time a competitor from Oklahoma took home Supreme Champion Female. But such success doesn’t come without putting in the necessary hard work.
“It’s a lot of work to get ready for the shows,” Kelton said. “Especially this show, because it was a really big one so we had to work six to seven hours a day just to work on those three that I showed. Then you have to drive down there, set up all your stuff to show them and you also have to have help, because you have to get them ready to show. So you have to have some people willing to come help you, especially during a week in Kansas City, Missouri. We have some wonderful help that comes to the shows with us that we really appreciate.”
Any program that makes it a goal to share the importance of hard work is something that can be beneficial to being in a program like 4-H. Kelton’s mother, Blayne, said it is important for her kids to be exposed to something as special as 4-H and competing in the American Royal serve as life lessons.
“We feel like it’s a great opportunity for both of our kids to learn about hard work and that hard work, hopefully, can pay off for you,” Blayne said. “But just the chance to be around the top-caliber folks that come from all over the United States, so they’re bringing the animals that they think are the best. So kind of the best of the best of their cattle are at that show against what we hope is the best of the animals that we have to compete. It’s kind of the top tier of cattle that come through there to compete.
It’s just good people, good kids for him to be around. You see the hard work of early mornings, late nights, but to be able to just be there at the show is a great opportunity.”
Coming from a small town like Ripley and winning multiple awards at a national livestock show is something special in itself. With a strong support base from the Ripley and Payne County 4-H communities, Blayne said it is a source of pride to be a part of such a group.
“We’re very proud to go to school there in Ripley. We’ve got great support,” Blayne said. “But for a not very big school, to be there and represent that community and to know that we’ve got a lot of support both from administration, teachers and just friends, that we are very proud go to school there at Ripley and have that support. But we can kind of showcase the great 4-H members we have in Ripley and Payne County, as well. We think it’s one of the best things that kids can do is to participate in the 4-H program or FFA program, just because of all of the great things kids can do.”
Kelton continues to compete in livestock shows, currently participating in a competition in Louisville, Kentucky. He and his heifer, Fiona, are readying for several more competitions this fall as well as the Oklahoma Youth Expo in March 2019. Even at such a young age, Kelton is very appreciative of the experience he had and the opportunity that was presented to him.
“I’ve been showing cattle for three years now,” Kelton said. “There’s some people that show for 12 years and never have the opportunity that I’ve had recently. So I’m very fortunate, and also to be around different people that I do not know, it’s just pretty cool to meet all the people from all over.”