Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Portraits from the Junior Livestock Show

By: Garet Livermore, Vice President for Education
One of the most important traditions of The Farmers’ Museum is its annual Junior Livestock Show. Established by Stephen C. Clark Jr. in 1947, the Junior Show has brought children from throughout Central New York to show their sheep, dairy goats, swine, dairy cattle and beef cattle to Cooperstown to participate in one of the largest events of its kind in the Northeast. The show is run cooperatively by the museum with the Cooperative Extension staff of the following counties:

• Otsego
• Delaware
• Schoharie
• Fulton/Montgomery
• Herkimer
• Oneida
• Madison
• Chenango

Through the more than sixty years of the show, much has changed in farming and the economy of our region. In Oneida County alone, there were more than 4,000 farms at the show’s inception and scarcely 1,000 today. But the Junior Show has remained a constant for farm families and 4-H members each summer. Because of rising interest in food and agriculture, the show remains healthy and continues to attract about 300 children and about 700 animals as participants. Many of whom are children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of exhibitors from years gone by. Many families find themselves drawn into the world of the show and after starting off as exhibitors, they become involved in starting and maintaining 4-H groups in their communities or even helping to organize the show itself.

The focus of The Farmers’ Museum Junior Livestock Show is the kids and their animals. The children spend countless hours in the months leading up to the show preparing themselves and their animals for the event. Many of the participants use the Cooperstown show as preparation for nationally recognized events like the New York State Fair and the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
This year, to document the relationship between the children and their animals, museum staff worked with photographer Richard Walker to create a series of portraits in a makeshift studio at the show grounds. The photographs illustrate the pride and hard work that goes into the show and the bond between exhibitor and their animal partners in the event. Here are a few of samples of Richard’s work on this project.

For more images in this series, click here.

All photographs by Richard Walker.

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