LIMA — When it comes to the Allen County Junior Fair Carcass Show, it is not what is outside, but what is inside, literally, that counts.
Hundreds of people lined up along the outer wall of Keystone Meats on Harding Highway on Wednesday to get an insider’s view into various cattle, pigs, chickens, rabbits, lambs and goats that were showcased at last week’s fair.
“What happens here is that after the grand reserves of each species have been decided at the fair, the next placings all go into the carcass show,” according to Kelly Colbe, 4-H educator at the Ohio State University Extension. “It varies by species as to how many animals come in.”
Judges from Ohio State University made the trip to inspect each of these carcasses at Keystone, armed with a specific formula for each species as to what makes a winner.
“They look for back fat on all the animals, the percentage of fat and the rib fat,” Colbe said. “For the beef, they’re looking at the USDA marbling grades, based on USDA standards.”
For the junior fair competitors, Wednesday’s show marked the end of months of caring for their animals and preparing them for exhibition.
“A lot of work went into this,” according to Jordan Motter, 11, of Lafayette, whose carcass took top prize for pork at this year’s competition. “We walked them twice a day every day so they wouldn’t get tired in the show arena.”
Another highlight for the competitors is receiving their checks for the sales of their animals.
“All the animals, except for poultry and rabbits, were bought from the competitors,” Colbe said. “They receive a carcass price, which is driven by the market for the animal. They’re either bought by a private buyer after the show or Keystone may buy a couple themselves. Kewpee also buys a large number of our beef carcasses.”
Motter, now in his third year of competition, enjoyed the feeling of picking up his check, which he plans to use on raising up a pig for next year.
“I got $250 this year,” he said.
Harry Shutt, owner of Kewpee, bought seven steer carcasses at this year’s show, noting that the number of carcasses available has declined in recent years, probably due to the costs involved in raising the cattle.
“It’s a lot bigger investment to raise a steer,” he said. “It’s a lot easier and cheaper to raise a smaller animal.”
While the money is a big part of the carcass exhibition, the same competitive nature that drove the presenters during the fair is still present during the carcass show.
“These kids do come out here and they want to see what their animals look like,” Colbe said. “They’re often surprised when the final placings do come out. When it comes to the grand championship, you may be down in the 11th spot, but here, it depends on what your animal looks like.”
Area meat lovers will be able to follow up with these animals on plates or in between hamburger buns in the near future.