At the N.C. State Fair, students from Carter High School participated in the Livestock Special Awards Show.
Claudette Goodwin, the agriculture teacher at Carter, was among the people who went with the Carter students. Goodwin asked both Carol Turner and Callie Carson, who serve as associate superintendents for the show, about some of the history of the show and their feelings about it.
Here is what Turner had to say:
“One of our beef cattle exhibitors brought a family member, Mike, to the state fair every year. Mike has some intellectual and disability challenges, but he always was a big help working with the cattle behind the scenes. In 1996, he told Chuck Miller, director of livestock, that one day he was going to show at the state fair. Chuck came back into the office and we put together a plan to start a special show for special- needs exhibitors the next year.
“The Livestock Special Show started in 1997 showing a beef heifer and a lamb or goat. Starting with a couple of exhibitors, we now have 40-50 exhibitors every year. This show has been so well-received that later we started the Dairy Special Show the last weekend of the fair showing a dairy goat and a dairy calf. Many of the county fairs have also started a special show.
“I retired as office manager in the livestock office after 26 years. These special shows are close to my heart and since I helped get them started, I still wanted to be involved. So now I am assistant superintendent of the two special shows. Also, our youth exhibitors let us use their animals and are helpers in the show ring to the special show exhibitors. Agri Supply has been the sponsor for many years and have been actively involved helping hand out the medals and giving the exhibitors their awards. This show has special exhibitors, special helpers, and many special folks helping behind the scenes to truly make these shows a very rewarding experience for all.”
Here is what Carson had to say:
“You are correct that there is no age limit on the show. Exhibitors can keep coming back for as long as they want. Some of the exhibitors – your kids and others – have been coming back for 15 years plus. Mike Smith, the original exhibitor and reason for the show, is now 53. He has Down Syndrome. Every year we try to make the event better for the special exhibitors, more efficient and more meaningful.
“Agri Supply sponsors the N.C. State Fair Special show and has for about 15 years. They provide the hats to all the participants.
“Carol Turner with the N.C. State Fair handles sponsorships and awards. Dorise Utley handles entries and paperwork. The rest of the ladies in the fair office put together packets of information. The State Fair also provides sponsorship for the trophies and prize money.
“My favorite part is seeing how happy the special exhibitors are, and when they make a true connection with the helper and the animals. You can see absolute, pure joy on their face. The same thing when they win the medals and prizes. It’s also pretty wonderful to see the friendships that start to develop between the helpers and the special exhibitors, some that have grown and are now true friendships.
“My responsibility is to coordinate that there are enough animals and helpers for beef and sheep/goat shows. I also pair the kids with the special exhibitors, break the groups and ensure the flow of the event. I manage all volunteers who are in the show ring and helping with the special exhibitors. I make sure the helpers have the name of the special exhibitor and know when to be available for the show.
“2015 was the 18th year of the Special Livestock Awards Show! We started in 1997 with one exhibitor, and, in 2015, we had 49 entered, with around 39 showing up. That’s tremendous growth, especially figuring that now there is a Special Livestock Show on both weekends! The kids who own the animals love to assist, and many look forward to it at the fair and the opportunity to help someone with an animal who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Even if the special exhibitor they are assigned doesn’t show up, all the kids ask if there is something else they can do to help. It’s a group effort!”