Student's 'happy place' is in show rings across the country
Bailey Anderson is one dedicated high school student, one dedicated to livestock that is.
Anderson, an active Culver FFA member and Jefferson County 4-H'er, has been across the country — Kansas City and Louisville, to name a couple of places — showing sheep and goats at some of the biggest jackpot shows around.
She said it all started when her brother got into showing sheep and she followed suit. Now she owns half of a herd -- shared with her brother, who has since graduated from high school -- and has multiple show animals that take up a lot of her time.
"It's in my family, that's mainly why I do it," she said.
At this point, she has spent nearly four years traveling to shows.
"When I started, I was just going to jackpots in Oregon," she said.
"It was to the point where my mom couldn't help me anymore. She didn't know where I needed to go for the next level, so I got a coach at that point," she said, adding that she has been with coach Derrek Smalley ever since. She now travels all over California, as well as Oregon and larger shows farther away.
"There's a big difference between jackpots and the county fair. I feel that jackpots are way more competitive, especially like the big shows I went to in Louisville," Anderson said.
When she goes to a jackpot show, she said it's a lot bigger, which means you are competing against a lot more people, and the animal quality that you are up against is better – which holds everyone competing to a higher standard.
"County fair is like a week long, and it's kind of filled with drama," she said. "A jackpot is like a weekend, and it's not really filled with drama."
However, the classes are the same. At each jackpot, Anderson shows in market and showmanship classes the same way she would at the county fair in the summer. She said you just don't often sell at the end.
At some of the bigger shows, like one she has gone to in Arizona for several years, there is a sale at the end, but only top placers sell.
"I have been to Arizona four years, and my second and third year, I sold a lamb," she said.
Anderson said that showing has really become second nature and a world where she feels comfortable. She said she is used to missing a day or two of school to go, adding, "It's a different world from sports."
Anderson likes getting to see more of the country and meeting different kinds of people. "I have other friends in California that I see at all the different shows," Anderson said. "It really is like a totally different world."
"The livestock industry has kind of shaped me into who I am today, so that's like what I know best to do," she said.
"I guess I would consider it my happy place," she said about the show ring. "You can't win them all."
That being said, Anderson has been quite successful, seeing her hours of hard work pay off by winning more than 20 different jackpot shows and winning showmanship at the Kansas City show this past year.
She said that being successful certainly helps make it worth it, but she also really enjoys helping people, and showing gives her a unique opportunity to help kids younger than she is.
"I have a new little girl that I am helping this year," Anderson said. "She is like really excited to get into it."
While the younger girl is just showing at county fair, Anderson is planning to take her along to a few jackpot shows to see how the other side of the show world works.
Anderson said she had a similar mentor when she was getting started, a high school girl who helped show her the ropes. Although her mentor now comes in the form of her coach, Anderson enjoys being a mentor.
For Anderson, these projects and shows are pretty much her life, and her dedication shows through her successes and the crazy number of hours she spends regularly working with her animals.
"I hang out with my friends a lot, but my animals come first. They are my priority," she said.
In the summer months -- the slower season for jackpot shows since everyone is showing at county fairs -- Anderson said she spends three to five hours a day working with her animals.
In the winter, because of school, that goes down a bit, but not by much. She gets up and is out feeding at 7 a.m. every day and then feeds at 7 p.m., timing it just right to make sure the animals are getting fed every 12 hours. Add the half hour it takes each morning and evening to the time she spends working with her animals, and that's nearly 6 hours a day sometimes – with the exception of Sundays.
"I give them Sundays off," she said. "My summer is basically set out here. I don't do much else."
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