By ERIN MAYES
The sounds and, well, the smell of cows filled the Calaveras County Fairgrounds in Angels Camp this weekend.
The 13th annual Gold Country Heifer and Steer Show took place Saturday and yesterday and brought out dozens of competitors, all under 21, who were judged on how well they showed their animals. And the animals, too, were judged on their quality.
"It's my life," said Casey Overmier, 15, of raising her animals. "It's fun. You get to meet a lot of people."
The Calaveras High School student is the recipient of the Cattleman's Jackpot Prize held in Amador County in 2002. She proudly displayed a belt buckle from the event. The heifer that won that honor, Valerie, was home giving birth to a calf during the weekend, but Overmier brought three other heifers and a steer to show on Sunday. There were 139 steers in the competition.
Katlyn Bradford, 10, scratched at her brown and white heifer, CJ, with a show stick and explained how the judging works.
"This judge, he's looking for femininity," the Livermore resident said. "Sometimes they like them to have long bodies, or short bodies, fat, skinny. It just depends on the judge."
A 4-H'er, Katlyn said she's been raising heifers since she was 5.
"It's excellent," said Merced resident Debbie Cozzitorto, talking about children raising animals and showing them. Her 10-year-old son, Lucas, was among 23 junior exhibitors at the show. He was standing in the ring with his heifer, being judged on showmanship as she spoke. "They make friends, they learn responsibility."