Ready with her strategy, Whitney Reever of Glidden walked Frankie, her 1,250-pound, 18-month-old Maine-Angus heifer, into the show ring at the Iowa State Fair last month.
“You walk the heifer at a steady speed, at which she looks the best,” said the 18-year-old member of the Richland Hot Shots 4-H Club. “When you stop, you have a certain position at which each hoof is supposed to be. You have to make sure you set up its feet correctly as fast as you can.”
Reever executed her strategy so successfully that she was selected the champion out of 12 contestants in the Fair’s highly competitive senior showman division, made up of 11th- and 12th-graders.
“It exemplifies all the work you’ve put in; you’re acknowledged for it,” Reever said in a recent interview with the Times Herald. “Not everybody knows how much work you’ve put in, and getting that recognition is very special. It makes you feel like what you’re doing is all worthwhile.”
For Reever, this award is a pinnacle of showing animals at the Carroll County Fair, State Fair and open beef shows since she was a third-grader.
And for Whitney, along with her mom, Lora, and brothers, Will and Wes, there was a much deeper meaning.
It demonstrated how much she values the lessons and encouragement her dad, Tim Reever, gave her over the years before he passed away suddenly last October at age 53.
“We lost our father last fall, and showing cattle was something he loved,” Whitney said. “He always loved us kids doing it, and it was something we could all do as a family. So this past year was very emotional for our family — to succeed and know that he’s watching over us and we’re making him proud.”
Tim was a fifth-generation farmer, operating a Century Farm south of Glidden with Lora and their children.
Will and Wes also enjoyed a lot of success in beef shows, but Whitney’s State Fair championship is a first in the family.
Andrea Irlbeck, Carroll County Iowa State University Extension county youth coordinator, said in a news release, “Showmanship differs from most animal shows because the awards reflect the 4-H exhibitor’s ability to prepare and exhibit the animal in the show ring, rather than the evaluation of the animal.”
Reever said, “Showmanship was very important to my dad. He always told me how my calves were presented was key to their success, and that you always have to put work in to get the results that you want.”
And work she does. Reever began last fall entering Frankie in shows. She’s worked seven days a week and as many as five hours a day with her.
“I spend every day with her in the barn,” she said. “I’ve spent more time with her than with my own family. I groom her hair, I walk her and set her up, and make sure she behaves.”
Reever said Frankie, born in February 2018 and purchased from a Bremer Show Cattle sale in Blakesburg, “is very particular to who she wants to work with her, so we’ve been able to make a bond that allows me to help her perform at the best of her abilities.”
Out of all the animals Reever has had over the years, she’s gotten the most emotionally attached to Frankie.
“I’ve worked with her a lot more, showed her a lot more and have had a lot more emotional wins,” she said.
Frankie took first place in her class at the Carroll County Fair in July and later captured the Maine-Angus division at State Fair. As a State Fair division champion, Frankie advanced to the finals, bringing together champions and reserve champions from all breeds.
Although Frankie did not receive champion or reserve-champion honors in the finals, Reever said of the experience, “It was amazing. It was really incredible to be part of anything that huge.”
In addition to her State Fair success, Frankie was chosen third-place overall in the National Junior Maine-Angus Heifer Show, and Reever plans to enter Frankie in the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City in October.
Reever said, “Frankie is a very elegant feminine heifer with a sound structure that makes her a standout.”
Whitney followed her brothers’ footsteps into showing.
“My brothers started showing when they were middle-school age and decided to start their own business with it, and now we have a cow-calf operation,” she said.
Will, 26, a Glidden-Ralston High School and Iowa State University graduate, now runs the family farm, and Will, 22, also a Glidden-Ralston graduate, is studying in the veterinary-medicine program at Iowa State.
Whitney, who graduated this spring from Glidden-Ralston, where she also was FFA chapter president last year, began last month at Iowa State, where she’s studying ag communication.
“I definitely want to promote the importance of agriculture and all that it entails, and how important local farmers and the farm industry are and how we feed the world,” she said.