General

Ode to the Ringman

From the NAILE to the local county fair, it takes a team of individuals to pull off a successful livestock show. Often, the effort of the team is overlooked. In the quest for banners, in the rush to tear down and head home, in the fun that’s been had it’s easy to forget to acknowledge the efforts of those who made it all happen. One such thankless job is that of the ringman, ringwoman, ring steward if you will.

 

Ode to the Ringman

 

Pushing ornery sheep, separating pigs and twisting heifer tails.

Catching loose critters. Dusting off kids, whispering to them, “Get back out there.”

 

Efficient ringmen make it all work. Directing with a, “Stop. Head to tail.”

Breed reps in snazzy blazers, queens in crowns, even some agents do the job well.

 

But when there’s no ringman, or the guy’s on his phone and can’t see the distress,

it leaves juniors to struggle, frustrates parents, causes the judge to sort out the mess.

 

Then like a superhero a mom or former show kid seeing the need emerges from the crowd.

They will handle it, they will calm the flock, they will take charge and make us all proud.

 

Ringman: a glamorous job it is not. So, we’re thankful to those who’ve answered the call.

Tiring, messy, all day, but for the livestock show, one of the most important jobs of all!

 

-Kelly Thomas

Kelly and her husband, Chad, raise cattle, sheep and two children in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Their kids are the 4th generation to grow up on the farm and show livestock. Some of the family’s very best days happen in the show barn. Some of their most contentious days happen there too. Kelly believes that a kid will build life-long friends showing livestock. After all, she is the girl that married the boy she met in the show ring. She loves educating children, especially about agriculture. She believes that even if a kid won’t grow up to work in agriculture the kid still needs to grow up to be a knowledgeable consumer. Oh, and that ranch dressing should be considered a food group.

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