401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421
Photo submitted Raising and showing livestock is a family effort. Here, Colbi helps younger sister Taneal unroll her flag.
Photo submitted In addition to showing her horse, Taneal enjoys showing pigs.
Photo submitted Colbi showed his sheep last year and hopes to win again at the upcoming fair.
Photo submitted Taneal won junior princess for Delta County in 2016. She loved representing the community and participating in the rodeos and parades.

Showing livestock provides life lessons

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Like other families in Delta County, the Braslins enjoy living here for the ability to spread out, own land, and raise livestock. Their four children have found joy and passion in showing and participating in the Delta County Fair over the years.

This year the two youngest, Taneal, 13, and Colbi, 15, will show several animals they've worked diligently with throughout the year.

The Braslins became more involved with the fair when their oldest turned eight, 14 years ago. Since then, every summer concludes with showing their best and wrapping up months of hard work.

Andy, the father, joined the fair board about five years ago. He oversees sheep, vendors, the beer garden, advertising and security.

Mom Heather has been involved with fairs her whole life. When she was a teenager living in California she won queen at a local fair.

Now daughter Taneal follows her mom's footsteps. Last year she won Delta County's junior princess. Since she can only win once in the county, this year she went to Montrose County and was the only candidate.

"I definitely plan on participating next year for princess," she said.

In addition, Taneal enjoys showing pigs, goats and horses the most. She competes in the all-around cowgirl, ranch horse, English and western. Last year she won at the state fair for ranch horse.

"This year I hope to head back to state and win," she said. She also plans to show a steer and some sheep.

"I've worked with my steer a lot and he's gotten better at responding to me," she said. While this might seem like a lot of livestock to show at once, Taneal finds the process enjoyable.

Colbi, however doesn't enjoy pigs like Taneal. "They're not hands-on enough for him," said Heather. He finds steers and sheep to be his specialty.

"Since I was little I wanted to show steers and now I can," he explained. "When I started with working with sheep I fell in love with it."

This year he's showing sheep he had to bottle feed.

"I want to see the reward after having worked with them since they were babies," he remarked. Last year he won bred and fed with his steer, meaning they were bred and fed in Delta County.

As expected, showing days is busy for these two. They'll spend their Saturday waking up early, cleaning livestock stalls, grooming, bathing and putting on the finishing touches before judging.

Before the show, however, is when most of the work is done. This week they're "working them hard," as Heather puts it. She's practiced with the kids, putting them in a round pen and walking around like they're being judged.

Throughout the summer Taneal and Colbi took their livestock to jackpots to prepare for the fair. These are open shows, allowing them plenty of practice before August.

In addition, the two went to livestock camps and learned a wealth of information. "There was just so much," remarked Colbi. "For example, I learned that how you feed your sheep makes a huge difference."

Then, in October, they'll begin the process again when they start buying or breeding. Once the babies are born they'll work with them daily.

Because the fair is important to Colbi and Taneal, they also each take 20 invitations to various sponsors and businesses in Delta County. As a nonprofit the fair relies heavily on sponsors, ticket sales and fair-related fees to exist.

"This fair wouldn't be possible without Delta County coming together in support," said Heather. The Braslins hand out the invitations to the Junior Market Sale as a way to make sure the sponsors know they're valued and to answer any questions.

Heather believes the fair provides the community and youth who participate a vital opportunity to understand hard work and dedication.

"You can see the kids who put in the hard work and hours," she said. She emphasized a quote Taneal learned while at showing camp -- "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."

Additionally, Heather sees value in the youth understanding the process of raising animals for a food source.

"There's a big difference in raising an animal and using them for food versus buying in the store," she said. Showing becomes a way for youth to participate in this process, and learn life lessons like hard work and responsibility along the way.

For example, this year Taneal was going to show a goat that won showmanship at a jackpot show in Hotchkiss. Unfortunately they lost him due to illness later that week.

"It's part of the process," said Heather. "They learn how to handle the heartache and reality of loss."

Colbi and Taneal also learn the value of teamwork. Both are in 4-H but Colbi also participates in football, basketball and baseball. Taneal often has to help with extra chores or caring for Colbi's livestock when he is unable. Likewise, he will do the same for her.

One tip Heather learned to help them push each other to succeed was to split their earnings. "Sometimes you have a child who gets grand champion and they'll make more money; you just never know," she said. "But we want them to be there for each other."

The Braslins also have two older children, and their son often comes and helps during the busy day.

"Showing livestock is a family effort," said Heather. "If you want to be successful you have to work together."

To see the hard work Taneal, Colbi, and other youth in the county are doing, stop by the Jr. Market Livestock Sale, Saturday, Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. at the Delta County Fairgrounds.

Read more from:
North Fork
Tags: 
Delta County Fair, Hotchkiss, livestock
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